Reported assault at Mattielou Hall

Campus News


Brooke J. Freundschuh

UNA PD responded to the scene of a reported assualt outside of Mattielou Hall. The students involved in the fight did not face criminal charges from the incident.

Brooke J. Freundschuh, Managing Editor

 On the evening of Aug. 23, an incident of assault at Mattielou Hall was reported to the University of North Alabama Police Department.

This incident incited widespread rumors across campus, and many were stating that “a group of football players jumped a student,” as well as spreading various other iterations of the story. 

“On Monday evening of Aug. 23, 2021, at approximately 8:20 p.m., officers responded to Mattielou Hall in reference to a possible assault. Upon further investigation, it was determined that two students had been involved in an altercation in front of Mattielou Hall. Both students have been referred to Student Conduct. No significant injury to either individual,” UNA PD Chief Les Jackson said to the Flor-Ala. 

In the first page of the incident report, the only section that is currently public information, it affirms Chief Jacksons statements. The offense is classified as completed Simple Assault, a misdemeanor in the third degree. 

It is stated that there was an individual victim, a black male, age 19. The offense is not marked as a bias or hate crime. 

The case status is closed and the disposition reads “exceptional clearance with no prosecution/other prosecution.” This means that the attacker was not and will not be prosecuted in court for this offense and the consequences will be issued by the university. 

A resident at Mattielou Hall witnessed the exchange that led up to the altercation. Their identity remains anonymous to protect innocent parties.

The resident claims they were on the first floor of Mattielou with a friend, doing laundry. The resident and their friend started a game of pool. 

 “A handful of football players come in. We’re all talking, and we sit down at a little coffee table out there,” the resident said.

According to the resident, after conversing with the football players for about 15 minutes, another student came down the stairs. This student addressed the football player sitting behind the resident and said, “Hey, are you the guy who asked me if I had a staring problem when I was at the store with my mom?” 

The football player told him that he had the wrong guy, but another football player, seated in front of the resident, took offense to the student provoking his teammate.

“He gets up and gets all in his face and keeps talking about how he’s going to ‘fight him right there,’” the resident said. 

The student who started the conversation is said to have remained quiet and to have walked outside. When he departed, he was followed by the player who had already threatened him. Simultaneously, another group of football players entered the building and pulled their teammate back inside. 

The resident assumed that this was the end of the conflict and retreated to their room. 

“I’m thinking it’s over, and then I go out later that night and I hear from a group of my friends that are like ‘hey, you live in Mattielou, right? Did you hear about the guy who got jumped?” the resident said. 

The involvement of members of the football team has furthered the rumors regarding the incident.

“There is nothing to comment on at this point from anyone in the athletic department,” Jeff Hodges, Senior Associate Athletic Director of Communications, said, after he and the football team’s coaching staff were questioned about athletic involvement in the incident. 

As stated by Chief Jackson, the case has been referred to the Office of Student Conduct.

While doing laundry and playing pool with a friend on the first floor of Mattielou Hall, a resident claims to have witnessed a discussion between another student and a football player, which led to a physical altercation outside the residence hall. (Casey Kula)

 Although the details of this case cannot be given for confidentiality, Dr. Nick Gordon, Director of Student Conduct, clarified the process by which incidents are handled.

“As far as conduct goes, the protocol is the same for every incident,” Gordon said. 

All cases start with an incident report. Many reports come from Housing and Residence Life, as well as the UNA PD, faculty and community members. Gordon defines a report as a “possible, alleged violation of the code of conduct.” For each report, an investigation is opened, but the length and depth of the investigation varies depending on the severity of the claim. Gordon clarifies what the process would be if the student is found guilty of violating the code of conduct.

“We would charge them with a violation of the code of conduct, via a letter. We would have a meeting with them. We would discuss the incident with them. We would allow them to answer and ask questions of us. We would give them what we call a ‘sanction’, which is basically a consequence, but a sanction is something we would require them to do to remain in good standing with the university, should they be allowed to stay a student. Most of the time that we give a sanction and the person is allowed to remain a student,it is an educational sanction,” Gordon said.

He states that the most common sanctions are online courses on topics such as alcohol safety. In more serious situations, the student may face suspension or expulsion. He also explained that in every situation in which the code is violated, the student in violation has the chance to appeal the decision, and ethical factors are taken into consideration as to what motivated the incident. 

Although the Department of Student Conduct does not deal directly with athletics or other student organizations, they determine if a student will be suspended or expelled for their behavior. If a student is suspended or expelled, they are automatically removed from whatever teams or organizations they are involved in on campus and are no longer able to receive scholarships, because they are no longer a student. 

In some cases, student conduct is allowed to communicate with advisers of programs the student is in violation of, but the federal government prevents unnecessary discussion of incidents that involve student information.

“Something we would consider a serious conduct violation, something that would put students in harm or in danger, the likelihood of them being removed from the campus community is pretty high,” Gordon said.

“We want to protect the campus community as a group, but we also want students to learn from their past behavior that doesn’t line up with the goals and mission of our institution.”

There was an arrest made outside of Mattielou Hall on Sept. 2. This incident is unrelated to the assault on Aug. 23.