Autistic thrown off campus for “threats” - friends rally

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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 63
Gender: Male
Posts: 24,830
Location: Long Island, New York

14 Dec 2017, 2:17 am

A Threat to Campus? Or a Panic Attack?

On Friday evening, Iris Allen found himself homeless.

He had been kicked out of his dorm and ordered off campus following what Hampshire College has called a series of threats. A suspension hearing was scheduled for Monday, but until then, Allen wasn’t allowed on campus.

“Yes, I’ve developed social habits that aren’t acceptable, however, I have autism, and the school never looked in [to it],” Allen said in a video posted online by classmates to raise awareness of his situation. In the video, he was then escorted to a taxi by campus police and taken away. Coming from a background that has included homelessness, Allen had no family to turn to, according to supporters.

Hampshire has said that it removed a student -- without specifying a name, per privacy regulations -- from campus because of “a threat [that] was made to members of our campus community,” according to a message sent out by the administration Monday. Supporters of Allen say that he was unfairly kicked off campus and has since been suspended through the end of the spring semester, for outbursts and panic attacks that were related to his autism, and that those panic attacks did not constitute a threat.

Cameron Prata, a classmate and one of the organizers who have rallied support behind Allen, said that Allen was on the streets over the weekend but he and other supporters have since found a home for him to stay in off campus. The temperature dipped to a low of 29 degrees in Amherst, Mass., on Saturday, according to reports.

As Allen made brief on-campus appearances in suspension hearings held Monday and Tuesday, students gathered to stage sit-ins and rallies. There’s also been an increased police presence on campus this week.

Supporters of Allen are incredulous.

Prata described a series of events leading up to Allen’s suspension where he was reported to campus authorities for panic attacks or outbursts that occurred on campus and in public. While Allen's outbursts were possibly unnerving to onlookers, he said, they posed no threat.

“They’re making him out to be this criminal person,” Prata told Inside Higher Ed, adding that a suspension that leads to homelessness is “unacceptable.”

“He just wants an education and not to be homeless in the winter weather. There are just basic needs that have not been met and that are being neglected,” Prata said.

Organizers have rallied around the hashtag #FreeIris on social media, where attention has focused on whether his autism or the fact that he is black are a factor in his treatment.

Given Allen’s history of homelessness, and, in Allen’s telling in the video, his past with an abusive family life, Prata said that Allen doesn’t have immediate family to turn to. The dorm was his source of stable housing

Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity.

My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person.


Joined: 29 Nov 2017
Gender: Female
Posts: 1,254

14 Dec 2017, 2:27 am

Reading this makes me really sad... This remands me how I almost got expelled from my high school due to my outbursts...

[Inactive - I have left WP permanently]


Joined: 6 Jan 2011
Age: 31
Gender: Female
Posts: 32,053
Location: Somewhere in Colorado

14 Dec 2017, 3:25 am

Well I mean if you make a threat that is seen as valid, then yeah the consequence is likely being removed from campus and police action. However if he has fellow students supporting him and saying he did not impose any real threats, I tend to lean towards believing that he is being treated unfairly.

Fascism is a disease.