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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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After a year, this student's not going back
By Letter to the editor
Published May 27, 2007
Editor's note: This letter is from the mother of a Stillman College student, who was moved to write to Bill Maxwell after reading the second part of his series about "Two Years at Stillman. " Her son won't be going back in the fall. He hopes to attend a Florida private or public college for the next term.
After reading your column, I was so depressed. I felt like I had just attended a funeral.
My family and I were introduced to Stillman by head baseball coach Donny Crawford. My son, Joel, decided to go to Stillman in early June 2006. He was persuaded to attend Stillman to be closer to home.
He declined a much larger scholarship at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. Unlike the students you described, he graduated from high school with over a 3.0 GPA, had a decent SAT score and was raised in an upper middle class community.
His priority was to be a majority for once and play college baseball. I really thought I had done my research. I had not heard of Stillman before. I researched the Internet and found that they were an accredited college and U.S. News & World Report ranked Stillman in the top 50. I spoke with alumni who described it as "a great school." What I did not consider was they both graduated in the '60s and '70s. We visited the school twice, but we never toured King Hall. This was a big, big mistake.
The living conditions were deplorable! I now feel I failed my son in my efforts to guide him through his selection process. He has reassured me that I haven't and explained that it was his choice. He did not complain a lot. That's how big his passion for baseball is!
I have called and have written the school on several occasions. You are right! They are not easy to deal with. I often believe that they are somewhat surprised when I call and will not allow the answers that they try to pawn off on me and my son. It has been a battle. Can you believe that for 24 days there was no water in King Hall? My son was forced to use facilities in the dorm across the way. The cafeteria was closed for two weeks. They served meals with a very limited menu from the food court while the plumbing was being repaired.
After many failed attempts, I finally sent a letter to the president, Dr. McNealey, and the vice president of student affairs, Dr. Whittaker. Both were sent certified mail and received on April 27. To date, only Dr. Whittaker has replied, denying my request for reimbursement of the prorated room for the 24 days with no water. After reading your articles, I realize now, there's probably no money available for them to reimburse. I can cite so many issues about how my son describes the faculty and their own attendance, the assignments and lack of commitment to the good students.