Letter to the Editor

I took a 2-year course at Southwest Tech in Fennimore, when I decided to enroll I was nervous and excited, this is something I wanted not only for myself but for my family. I knew earning my associate degree would be the first step in starting my dream career. But, I didn’t get to accomplish that first step. 
 

It starts, first semester in 2015, with small handful of girls, laughing and snickering during my comments in class, then laughing because I used the Southwest Tech ‘Charger Cupboard’ (Charger Cupboard is basically a food pantry that students can use once a week) Yes, I was laughed at because I used this resource.  I was also laughed at because I am raising a daughter and not a son- I have no clue why this is something to bully and laugh at some mother for, as the girls who ridiculed me for having a daughter, are daughters themselves.  The laughing and snickering continues throughout my whole time there. Yes, I verbally reported these incidents to my advisor, she advised me all she can do is talk with the girls and if anything continues speak to her.  It does continue.
           

2nd semester in 2015, I was discriminated, a student I was paired with for an assignment, noticed I had scars on my arms, she made it clear to the rest of class, by saying very loudly “Do you see the scars on (my name here) ‘s arms, while pointing to her arms, she said it loud enough that each student was able to hear and turn towards me and stare.  The girls laughed.
Yes- this was reported to Southwest Tech (SWTC).
I was also, called a “’bitch” in class and told to “shut the f*** up” by a student because I gave my opinion on American banks.
Yes, this was reported to SWTC as well.
 

Also, during this 2nd semester a student later told me the group of girls where asking about what kind of vehicle I drive. I didn’t think anything of it then. Continue reading and you will find out why they wanted me vehicle info. I blocked each girl from all social media sights. The outcome of these incidents I reported where,” were not able to validate the incidents.”
 

3rd Semester, beginning of the second year.
By this time, the girls clique gained new members from classroom, and they continued to laugh and snicker at me in class, which is nothing new, so I remained quiet in class and didn’t give extra opinions on subjects that were taught.
By this time, the girls have figured out my vehicle and numerous times boxed me in. So, it was extremely hard to exit my vehicle.  Resource officer (also a police officer for the local police department) at SWTC was notified of girls boxing me in.

Last day on 3rd semester, I entered the classroom and sat down, a girl from this group, approached me while slamming her hands on my desk and positioned her head, inches away from my face and asked, “why I turned her in on Snapchat?” I assured her I didn’t have her or anyone one on Snapchat or any social media and that she better get out of my face, I repeated these multiple times. She remained in my face yelling and accusing me. Another girl from the group, jumped in and started calling me immature and a bitch, until I finally said, “get out of my face before your teeth fall in.”

The on-duty resource officer spoke with me moments later and assured me, I am not in any trouble- that the girls were supposed to go to her office before classroom, because Resource Officer said, she knew “they would retaliate at me.” Resource Officer that day made a report with SWTC about this incident.  She also advised me to ask for a safety plan, and that I should park in a different parking lot. She said someone from SWTC will be in contact with me either later today or tomorrow, but defiantly before winter break.
No one did.

Winter break starts.
Instead I started receiving text messages from odd numbers, first one on December 18th, “Fat Narc”
Second text, “f***ing bitch, kill yourself” on December 19th.  I also received on December 19th, a message via Facebook messenger from an unusual name, “kill yourself stupid bitch.”

The resource officer- a Fennimore Police Officer was notified of what I was receiving on December 19th, she responded, “this makes me sick this is happening” she wrote me asking if she “could show SWTC safety team and administration the messages I was receiving.” I said yes.  she was also shocked that no one from SWTC contacted me yet about the incident last day 3rd semester. I received another text message on Christmas Eve, “grow up already cunt”

Early January, I received a phone call from a ‘new worker’ from SWTC, asking if I was okay. I didn’t quite understand the nature of the call, I asked is this about the texts and Facebook messages I have been receiving, she was unaware of this. She said, she was calling on behalf of SWTC because Grant County Sheriff Department had contacted the school, Sheriff Department was concerned for my safety while I attended SWTC. I discussed with her what was happening, texts and media messages I was receiving, as well as incidents I reported of bullying since 2015.  She said, she needed to talk with the administration and would call me back in a day or so.  No on called me back.

January 16th, I received message via Facebook messenger from another unusual name, “F***ING BITCH ur kid is better off without ur dumb ass…kill yourself- Karmas a bitch So should watch urself-Better not see ur F***ING FACE.” After receiving this threatening message, I contacted the Fennimore Police Department, and officer came out to my home and I showed him the messages and texts I was receiving, he took pictures so he had numbers from who sent them. He apologized for this happening and assured me he would be in contact. He advised not to attend Southwest Tech until a safety plan was in order by safety team.
The next day, January 17th, the Resource Officer messaged me saying, “I’ll be on campus at 8. Park in the child care lot. The Dean of Students is going to meet with you tomorrow about the plan regarding the harassment.” 

(No one from SWTC contacted me about this meeting. This is the first I heard of a ‘meeting’).  I respond with resource officer that I received a threatening message and do not feel safe to attend tomorrow and I will not be on campus Wednesday January 18th- my first day of 4th semester.  Resource officer responded, “ok. Do you want to meet me at the Police Department sometime?”  I informed her, “I have reported the threat I got to a different officer last night. I also showed him messages that I showed you. And the new ones. He said he was gonna be in contact with SWTC. Meet at the department to see what I have been receiving still?” Resource officer told me she “Yes. I have forwarded everything to the tech. I’m having trouble getting answers from them. I’d like to get your phone info to do a subpoena.”

Resource officer asked if she could subpoena my phone, so she could see who was sending these messages, so far it was from a “spoof app” I meet with Fennimore Police at the Fennimore Police Department January 18th, so they could get my phone info, the police officer also told me that she had met with members of the safety team at SWTC, and she was still surprised no one contacted me after all these weeks, she also said she made a 4-page safety plan for me and had showed the safety team her recommended safety plan.

I missed the first week of classes because no safety plan was set up by Southwest Tech and I did not feel safe attending. By second week into classes a meeting was finally set by some members of the safety team, I was denied when asked if I could have someone walk in with me, I was told SWTC staff only.  I was also denied when I asked if Resource Officer could be present for the meeting, I was told there is no need for her to be present. Fennimore Police Officer walked me into the Southwest Tech building for the meeting, because I did not feel safe.

During the meeting I received a violation, for my conduct from the incident 3rd semester, I was also given a written warning, and loss of privilege. -I could no longer be in club. At the meeting, I was asked to show the texts and media messages I was receiving, I did. I asked them why it has taken more than 3 weeks, plus one week of missing classes, to finally make a meeting, her response, “I was notified Wednesday January 18th and this is Friday the 20th, my response time is 2 days, so I am doing good.” I corrected her, and said you were notified of incident last semester in November 2016 by the resource officer, and during break in December- which the resource officer told me she contacted you and administration about the harassment.  I also asked why I didn’t have a safety plan in order-when resource officer recommend and wrote one and gave to the SWTC safety team.  She had no response, she stuttered, until the other member at the meeting finally said, “it was a template, we feel no need for a safety plan.”  (Little did they know I meet with the resource officer days before at the police department and seen the resource officer had wrote her 4-page safety plan)
No safety Plan was ever made.

I left the meeting, they lied. In my opinion, SWTC failed to listen to Fennimore Police and failed to listen to Grant County Sheriff Department. In my opinion, SWTC failed to do anything about what has been happening with the messages and text I was receiving.
 

Since that meeting January 20th, 2017, I have received numerous emails from SWTC Staff- telling me to drop out, I have been told numerous times to my face to drop out, staff continued to tell me to drop out even after I explained multiple times I want to finish.  The resource officer at SWTC was let go.

During this 4th semester, I started becoming more anxious while attending fearing what would happened next. But, I wanted to graduate, I earned that right. My school work never suffered, in fact, I jumped ahead on my school work and my grades where great. I did become extremely anxious and depressed about this on-going harassment situation, that I did seek out therapeutic services, to talk about what was happening at SWTC. I let my therapist also know, that I got an email from SWTC staff saying my poor eye contact and lack of participation would cause me to not graduate. Words in email were, “additional violations of the code of conduct could escalate your sanctions. I expect you to acknowledge greeting from your instructors, actively participate in class (e.g. making visual eye contact with your instructors, making your desk clear for approachability.”) Accommodations were made by the therapist to make it easier to attend SWTC, while I dealt with the anxiety and fear of attending. SWTC staff was notified of my accommodations.  First thing SWTC asked was, “sure you don’t want to drop out.”

I almost made it through 4th semester. I almost graduated.
4th semester, February, I was walking in the hallway and I could hear the group of girls behind me, getting closer to me, one spat on back of my head and I had a pen thrown at my head. I walked out of the school and went home. I did not report this one, because I felt nothing gets done about it. In my opinion, SWTC takes no action.
Today, I am unable to graduate.
But those group of girls will graduate this semester and become hired in the helping profession.

Brittney Ronnfeldt

MWN

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