Local News

St. Aug student barred from graduation ceremony

Posted April 29, 2011 2:59 p.m. EDT
Updated April 29, 2011 6:26 p.m. EDT

— A senior at Saint Augustine's College has been barred from participating in graduation after statements he made on the school's Facebook page, school officials said Friday. 

Roman Caple said he went to get his information packet for graduation on Wednesday and was told by school officials that he would not be allowed to attend Sunday's ceremony due to something he wrote on Facebook in the days following the April 16 tornadoes. 

The university reopened three days after the storms amid the hum of chainsaws and the roar of heavy machinery. 

Some students balked at the quick turnaround, saying trees, power lines and broken glass still littered the campus, and some dormitories were without power. School leaders said power had been restored to all campus buildings. 

College spokeswoman LaToya Sutton said in a press release Friday that Caple made comments on the school's Facebook page in an effort to disrupt a meeting on campus where Progress Energy representatives planned to speak with students. The college also planned to discuss storm recovery details at the meeting.

In a screenshot of the comment released by the college, Caple wrote, "Here it go! Students come correct, be prepared, and have supporting documents to back up your arguments bcuz (sic) SAC will come hard! That is all." 

Sutton said Caple lives off campus and was not present on campus during the storms or the aftermath.

"It was determined that the comments made to the page by Mr. Caple, coupled with other comments he made to select individuals, were designed for the sole purpose of inciting students to react to the college’s continued efforts to manage a difficult situation," Sutton said. "At a time when the college staff was working diligently to ensure the well-being of all students, Mr. Caple, a senior, chose to attempt to create chaos."

Sutton said Caple made other comments that were deemed inappropriate. Those comments were not released. 

Other incidents involving Caple were also factored into the school's decision, Sutton said. She would not comment on the specifics of those incidents, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. 

Caple has completed his degree requirements and will receive his diploma, Sutton said. 

"There's always been issues with the administration that I didn't agree with. I believe the administration is using this as a ploy to keep me from walking at graduation because I always voice my opinions," Caple said. 

Caple said that, since he learned of the college's decision on Wednesday, it is too late for his out-of-town family members to cancel their travel plans.

"We got a lot of people coming into town for this, and this event is put on hold. It's ridiculous. I am very hurt," Caple's mother, Joy Gray, said.