NEWS

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October 30, 2007

Student’s friend ousted from Hitchcock dorm

When Jacob Tyrell arrived at Hitchcock House for his O-week move-in, he brought something with him that other first-years didn’t: a friend.

Nearly a month after Tyrell and John Daniel George, a college student from Michigan, moved in, George has been banned from the U of C housing system and told that he would be arrested for trespassing if he came back.

According to Hitchcock Resident Head Ben Sax, students in the dorm reported that their unexpected housemate was “unnerving” to the point where they felt uncomfortable, and asked that he be removed from housing.

“Every time I checked my e-mail, there was something new,” Sax said. At some points, he received between 10 and 15 complaints a day from residents, including reports that George was making misogynistic comments, smoking marijuana, arguing with students, and staring down other residents in the hallways.

Jacob Tyrell did not respond to attempts to contact him for this article.

Still, some Hitchcock residents defended George, saying that many of the complaints against him were lodged because of ivory tower prejudice.

According to first-year Hitchcock resident Katherine Koch, many of her housemates have “a very conservative notion of what kind of person is worthwhile,” and said that George was “not a security threat at all.”

But according to the housing office, George was causing too many problems to be left alone.

“We would not ban someone from a hall or house simply for not being a student or resident of the community,” Catherine Callow-Wright, associate dean of students in the University and director of undergraduate student housing wrote in an e-mail. She said that the University bans people from a house because of “behavior in which they have engaged that is a violation of community standards and policies.”

George disagrees that he ever violated community standards and policies. He says that many Hitchcock residents stereotyped him because of his black clothes, leather jacket, long hair, and cigarettes as soon as he arrived on campus.

“I have never smoked weed in Chicago, anywhere, let alone on campus,” George said. He added that he has a “strong hatred for sexism” and did not make any offensive comments to girls in the dorm.

Even though Tyrell’s roommate, first-year Christopher Winn—the person most likely to be affected by George—said that he did not mind George’s presence, Winn was among the residents who were unsure why George was spending so much time at the U of C. “He never really explained it to me,” Winn said.

According to George, a number of circumstances—including an adulterous longtime girlfriend and a roommate who was domestically abusive to the girlfriend with whom the two shared rent—led him to follow his friend to the U of C.

“My girlfriend cheating on me and those two roommates were a major part of my decision to move,” George said. His roommate would make threats and was “constantly locking himself in rooms of the apartment with knives.”

Still, Hitchcock residents report that George’s stories would constantly change. On the first day, he gave the resident head a false name, and told others that he was a U of C student.

According to one source who asked to remain anonymous for fear of “ruffling feathers,” George told several people he was a published author “living off the dividends,” and “hit on several girls in the building” using Facebook and instant messenger.

Still, George reports that Hitchcock was “a fine place” until the resident heads informed him that complaints had been lodged against him.

“From there on it just became awkward seeing people I didn’t know in the hallway, not wanting to talk to anyone,” said George. “I would rush from place to place to avoid being seen. I didn’t ever want to be in the halls once I knew people didn’t like me.”

George said that he wishes students had complained to him directly, rather than e-mailing the resident heads, and compared their actions to those of a child. “When a child has a problem that isn’t threatening to them in any way, they complain to someone in a position of power…and let the mother and father fix it for them,” George said.

For his part, Sax said that he attempted to make the rules clear to George, telling him that since he was not a student, he could not live in the dorm and must always be accompanied by Tyrell, his host. According to Sax, these rules were not followed.

In the end, it was the housing office that intervened and decided to boot George, citing complaints it had received from students.

The anonymous resident said that many residents were “glad that he left” when George was banned from the dorm, and that many students wondered why it “took so long to kick him out.”

Others reported no difference. “I don’t think people really cared that much,” Winn said.

George said that it is unlikely that the U of C will see him again. He said that in the “best case” he would be un-banned from Hitchcock and resume spending time there, but suspects that he would be unwelcome.