October 25, 2014

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Molander in process of withdrawing from UMass

Also see: Campus Perspective: From Sylvan to Southwest, students discuss Molander
|Podcast: Molander speaks out about his intentions |Molander’s original ‘Friends Club’ letter |Tyler Molander debates withdrawal | Letter causes stir on campus | Campus Perspectives: Students respond to letter and reaction | Editorial: Molander misinterpreted by University

Editor’s Note (Feb. 7): A conversation with Tyler Molander, where he stated that he is considering the possibility of returning to UMass, has led the Collegian to revise the headline of this article.

Justin Surgent/Collegian

Justin Surgent/Collegian

Tyler Molander, the University of Massachusetts junior who distributed a letter in Southwest criticizing social interaction at UMass and announcing his intentions to start a “friends club,” has withdrawn from the University.

Molander’s letter, which asked students to meet him at the Blue Wall Cafe on Jan. 30 but requested that his acquaintances stay away, was quickly shared on Facebook, drawing police investigation and anxiety among students who perceived the letter as threatening. Molander did not show up at the Blue Wall on Monday.

Molander posted on Facebook at approximately 6 p.m. yesterday that he had withdrawn from UMass following a request to do so from the administration. News and Media Relations Executive Director Ed Blaguszewski confirmed that Molander is in the process of withdrawing from the University, but could not comment on whether it was solely his decision or if, as Molander’s status alleges, he received pressure from the University.

Molander’s family declined to comment at this time, stating that Molander had just returned home and that they would prefer to wait a few days before responding to media inquiries.

Molander’s Facebook status announcing his withdrawal has drawn dozens of comments, with many people expressing sympathy and some debating over the interpretation of the letter. According to Molander, approximately 100 people contacted the police following his distribution of the letter.

“I just wanted to make friends and be honest about doing it,” wrote Molander in the Facebook comment thread. “The fact is that people who don’t understand caused this hysteria.” In another comment he gave multiple reasons for his withdrawal, writing that he withdrew for medical reasons to avoid being forced out and that he withdrew for safety reasons in light of overreaction and paranoia among the student body of UMass.

“I think [Molander’s withdrawal] was certainly foreseeable. When everyone heard about that letter everyone was kind of freaked out,” said senior Jim Redding. “It was a very non-threatening letter, I guess, the way he put it, but just his idea of friendship kind of reminded me of a cult.”

Kevin Eglitis, a senior, empathized with Molander but said that he understood the reaction to his message.

“The fact that he put his name on it took a lot of brass. It’s a noble cause, the whole part where he said cut the s*** and be human … It’s a good cause but just not for this school,” said Eglitis. “We have such a group identity here that people will deny it to the death that they want to make a difference. It took a lot of courage for him to stand up and do it; it’s just tough to make a change like that.”

Eglitis also suspected that Molander may have faced harassment had he stayed at UMass.

“For my own opinion, I think [withdrawing] is better for his own good,” he continued. “There’s a lot of kids out here, especially come weekends – they will get stupid, and they will do stupid things. If you take the note for what it was, the message itself isn’t bad. It’s just the wording and the method of delivery that could have been tailored a little bit better.”

Dan Glaun can be reached at dglaun@student.umass.edu.

Comments
26 Responses to “Molander in process of withdrawing from UMass”
  1. UMass Senior says:

    While I don’t know the guy’s personal intentions, his main point is exactly right. The social atmosphere at UMass is very bad. A lot of students go home every weekend and the rest go out and take pictures of themselves with alcohol for Facebook. If you don’t do either one, you’re screwed.

    I am not condemning partying, but rather the fact that people who do not get completely blown off, even on weekdays.

    I’ve also noticed that a lot of “groups” have been together since high school and generally have no interest in meeting new people so it’s hard for out-of-state students to incorporate themselves.

    Obviously as the one quote points out, it’s hard to change this, but I think people could be a little more flexible/open-minded when it comes to activities and meeting new people.

    I think the reaction to this letter just proves his point. People can’t believe someone finally spoke out against the culture at UMass so they feel “threatened.” I would bet a lot of people know in their heart he’s right. Again, I don’t know his point in doing this and maybe there’s more to the story than we know, but I’m in agreement with his point and I’m sure there’s at least a few others on campus who are as well.

    Just my view after 4 years on campus.

  2. UMass Sophomore says:

    UMass Senior, I have been on this campus for 2 years now and I can honestly say what you wrote applies to about 1% of this campus. 1 out of every 10 people I’ve met actually go home often and I have seen “groups” from the same high school together and hanging out but not necessarily not talk to other people. I too am an out of state student and I befriended and formed a “group” with kids who have 100+ kids from their high schools here. Tyler had a good point in his letter but it does not take away the fact that it was unordinary and threatening. Not threatening because we like to go out and party or hang out with kids from our high school, threatening because of the way he wrote it. Before you go and write these things, try not to be as bias as you were in your comments.

  3. Umass sophomore says:

    The letter itself wasn’t particularly threatening, just sort of odd. However, when paired with Tyler’s Facebook it became more than a bit unsettling. When somebody send out a mass letter condemning a societal construct to hundreds of students, all while having a video of himself with a bag over his head with “sociopath” written on it, an existentialist manifesto that talks about having ones hands red with the blood of the innocent, as well as several status updates discussing chaos on his Facebook, I think the average, logical person would find more than enough evidence to feel uneasy at what might be to come. I understand that it may not have been his intention to scare people, but in light of what ha happened recently (particularly the events at Virginia Tech), the general public had the right to feel scared.

  4. UMass Junior 1 says:

    “A lot of students go home every weekend and the rest go out and take pictures of themselves with alcohol for Facebook. If you don’t do either one, you’re screwed.”

    That’s just ignorant. If you honestly think that, you’re doing college wrong.

  5. Senior says:

    Funny thing that the administration has no hesitation whatsoever but waffles on what to do with the 2010 rapist or Craig Guitarr, the repeat-offender of sexual assault. In the latter case it took nearly a full year for that to be resolved, and the piece of trash still can attend the damned school.

  6. Senior says:

    This whole this is such an overreaction that proved his entire point. Instead of responding with compassion for someone who was reaching out, the campus vilified him. PROVEN RAPISTS have been allowed to stay in the university and th university defend not only them, but other criminals and sexual offenders. One kid is brave enough to find friends without the use of alcohol and he gets kicked out. How is that fair, just, or responsible in an way?

  7. Former UMasser says:

    I’m a former student (class of 2009). Stumbled upon this story. Sure, I feel bad for this kid Tyler, but I think anybody would have to admit that his perspective may be a bit warped…

    He dropped the letters in doors in Southwest (I guess that means he lives in Southwest?) Anyone that has spent time on campus knows that that residential area is where people go to party. If you’re looking for a place to make lifelong friends (his definition of friends seems a little questionable too, I might add – aren’t friendships built on common interests??), you probably want to be on a different part of campus. Good for him for making an effort, but it was destined to fall on deaf ears (or blind eyes I suppose).

    To anyone who is planning to attend UMass, or is struggling with similar feelings to this student Tyler:
    Go to another part of campus. I lived in Central for most of the time I was there, and granted, Central is known a bit for its drug culture, but it is also a nice place to make friends. People that like to be outside. Go for hikes. Whatever. At least it was when I was there. And try not to get the idea of “friendship” twisted – go out and be with people who like things that you like, and want to do things that you want to do, because otherwise, what’s the point of friendship? He built this idea in his head and on paper, but failed to realize that the mutual interests he didn’t want to depend on would be the mutual interest that would have brought other students to the Blue Wall.

    Sorry dude, good luck wherever you go next.

  8. umass junior says:

    It was not just the southwest area where he slipped letters underneath the doors of students, I know people in the sylvan area who already received them. To a point he was correct because it is kind of hard to make friends out here, especially if your not the partying type. I myself have a hard time with that. However the way the letter was written is the problem. It’s unsettling to see on print that he doesn’t want people who know him to show up, that he loves us and so on. I know that he probably meant well in his head but did not actually turn out in any means like he wished. Also, I think that for the most part the basis of most relationships are to have things in common so I’m not so certain how he expected to make friends with having virtually nothing in common.

  9. Freshman says:

    So you all mean to tell me that this didn’t raise a red flag at all in your heads? This is the type of letter that is found after a school shooting and nobody did a damn thing about. I’m glad that at least some of the students here decided to contact the police, becaue you honestly never know what could happen.
    The fact he resigned is good, because sadly, I think he definitely would have been harassed for this. It’s good this kid was trying to get out there and make friends, but it was so informal and creepy the way he went about it. What I can’t figure out is how he got into an all freshman dorm on a sunday morning, slipped the notes under all of our doors, and not a single person noticed him. And the whole “Friends Club” sounded like a cult group that would invite you to a “friends party” and have you drink their “friends punch.” The whole situation is messed up but overall I’m glad people reacted the way that they did.

  10. Freshman says:

    Was everyone expecting a kid who is lonely and unable to relate to what sometimes can feel like a student body that loves partying more than learning to be happy? Loneliness can easily turn into desperation. Friends means something different to everyone; if Tyler didn’t want to exclude people who didn’t have similar interests as him from being potential friends…good.for.him. That sounds like a good idea…an open mind. Its a shame there are so many people who can’t understand that desperation mixed with the best intentions doesn’t always come across perfectly and “normal.” So what if the letter was unconventional? The world needs more people like Tyler.

  11. D Rant says:

    This U Mass sounds like a very retarded school. The young man’s withdrawal from this establishment is a wise decision. I wish him luck in his future endeavors.

  12. Sophomore says:

    Its a blessing in disguise for him, hes headed towards a happier path for his life.

  13. Eli Gottlieb says:

    I do have to say that unless they changed things this year, UMass is pretty shitty at keeping track of RSOs. I eventually made many of my best friends at UMass because I met them through classes, though a particularly social RSO (Mass Games), through my own random explorations (Sci-Fi Library and Games Hobbyist League) or through my girlfriend joining another particularly social RSO (Anime Club).

    As I recall, Mass Games has eventually made it onto the official listings of RSOs, but I never saw Anime Club on such a list despite its being a long-running club. I can agree that trying to make friends with everyone everywhere randomly is somewhat unusual, but look at it the other way around. What if you’re looking to make friends but can’t pursue a mutual interest because no official source of information even lists it as out there? The university gives incoming freshman and current students listings of all the RSOs THAT THE ADMINISTRATION WANTS TO SHOW OFF, rather than the RSOs we’ll actually want to join.

    And, half the time, the administration makes their best effort to KILL OFF the RSOs we actually want to join. They’ve been stabbing Mass Games in the gut for years, trying to cripple (the much-maligned by “bros” in Southwest but enjoyed widely on Orchard Hill and in Northeast) Humans vs Zombies. If they have their way, our once-proud campus community will someday consist of nothing but Greek life and honors societies — even the cultural associations and intramural sports being crippled as UMass administration tries to turn itself into Harvard Jr. And that doesn’t even start into the increasingly strict membership requirements and rules designed to make small RSOs shut down, or the trouble in advertising to keep a beloved group alive as members slowly graduate, or the pain-in-the-ass of trying to start a new RSO from scratch without an officer who already knows their way through the red-tape.

    Tyler wanted friends? He had an RSO he could have advertised better, or he could have joined some more. Except no, wait, he couldn’t have really, because this university makes it incredibly hard to actually start and maintain any group less popular than the Ski & Board Club.

  14. Dan Anderson says:

    I put like 5000 postcards under every dorm room door like a year or two ago with a picture of a duck. It directed you to a website where a video played of my face getting smashed on a desk. And there was no problems with it. This is stupid.

  15. mason says:

    I haven’t read the letter so it’s difficult to understand his entire message. However as a transfer student after I first arrived I found it very difficult to make friends because there is not very many opportunities to do so.
    UPC is funded for this purposes and the administration works in close collaboration with UPC to fund social events. However these social events often have low participation rates. I think one reason is because because of the lack of clear and noticeable advertising. Also the school forbids UPC from hosting parties and the school unlike other campuses does not have any late night entertainment. Most of the campus center closes down at 5 PM; which is ridiculous.
    Also there is not a bowling alley,a movie theater nor any other activities that students can regularly access and have fun using.
    The administration has spent 2 billion on capital upgrades the past decade and hundreds of millions in the past few years on constructing new buildings. Yet when students ask for a campus center, the SGA must struggle to achieve this and when the administration finally says yes; they increase our fees.
    How can you bolster a university’s reputation if there is no underlying culture and sense of community? The administration will bemoan the inadequate social scene and our “zoomass” reputation yet fails to take the necessary steps to correct it.

  16. joel says:

    He invited them to a PUBLIC location. That in itself makes it, in my mind, not very creepy at all.

  17. john_from_la says:

    “the general public had the right to feel scared”?

    Really? Really? You’re going to use Virgina Tech as an excuse for a small group of people driving a /student/ with no criminal record out of university?

    Are you 12?

    The worst that should have happened is people mock and ridicule what might be regarded as “creepy”, not lobby for his immediate removal.

    This certainly doesn’t reflect well on UMass.

  18. brad says:

    I agree with Mason… Northeastern had an “afterHours” area which felt like a club but didn’t serve alcohol… that was the only difference. It was open late and had a lot of shows and whatnot. This combined with their version of UMOC, as well as a number of other things, made NEU a good campus to be on at any given time.

    Open mic nights, etc were inviting and there was often a line for events… Something like this might improve the conditions mentioned by Mason.

  19. Christine Bertram (alumni of UMD) says:

    What is a University? My impression was:
    1. To encourage a love of lifetime learning.
    2. Encourage diversity, individualism, creativity, trust, and social growth

    I have known Tyler for approximately 10 years, since he was in the seventh or eighth grade. I find his treatment by UMASS Amherst very disappointing. Tyler is a serious student, with a wonderful sense of humor, trying like any young person, to discover who they are. Why is the system discouraging growth?

    I am an alumni of UMD (two degrees), and sincerely hope the decisions made by UMASS Amherst are not the same as another college or University would make.
    Christine Bertram

  20. Tavis Harrison says:

    I agree with this kid, whilst I think he could have wrote the letter a little more formally I don’t think peoples reactions where justified.
    this kid tried to help others and is now hated for it?
    is our society that ignorant?
    honestly I don’t care any more, I know it will be decades before people even begin to understand.

  21. UMass Alum says:

    Christine,
    I too am an alum with two degrees (relevant? no) but I think you are kidding yourself if you really cannot understand why people may be alarmed at Tyler’s letter.
    The letter on its own is, on all social accounts, extremely odd at the very least. He is clearly angry, conceited, and less willing to have an open mind than the society he loathes. This angry man asks people to meet him at a specific time, yet tells anyone who he is acquainted with not to come.

    And when an angry person who has this posted on their facebook: “I want to be happy. :D Me being happy means that I beat my friends with an crowbar. :D It doesn’t hurt them because I don’t think it does. :D SSHHHHHH! :D Don’t tell anyone. ;D” is asking crowds to join him, any rational human would consider the possibility of violence, not because of paranoia, but because of the similarities between Tyler’s language+anger and that of disturbed individuals who have acted out violently in the past.

    Tyler may be a good guy, and I do feel bad for him, not because he was kicked out. I feel bad that he is so blind to the realities of our social framework. I feel bad that he is so closed-minded and that he boils down all of societies’ ills to a few choice culprits: alcohol, drugs, paranoia.

    The rest of us are happy, Tyler. We engage in behavior at our own free will because we enjoy it. We are productive, successful, and diverse. We enjoy doing “stupid, boring shit” because it makes us happy. Society may not be perfect, and you have all the right in the world to go out and make friends in any way you choose (legally, of course). You trying to make friends doesn’t make me uncomfortable. You using an unconventional method to make friends that mimics manifestos of past killers does.

    I wish the best for you, really I do. But each individual has their own path to happiness, love, and friendship. And just because your path is different doesn’t make the rest of us wrong, lazy, stupid, ignorant, dumb, paranoid, or whatever other words you like to call us. It’s time to look in the mirror, Tyler. We are all flawed.

    Also, I wanted to rebut just one specific part of your letter to the Dean. You say: “A child makes friends with everybody, but when he grows up and goes to college, he forms a small group of like-minded friends and a handful of acquaintances, and he might cope with the occasional lonely night by smoking a joint or playing video games or convincing himself that he’s only staying in because of his physics test tomorrow…”

    No shit. We all grow up at some point and develop obligations, hobbies, and beliefs that prohibit us from being friends with everybody. We all derive happiness from activities that do not include direct interaction with other human beings, be it reading, listening to music, playing video games, napping, drinking milk, or organizing our baseball cards. You must have some hobbies, unless you are socializing and being productive 100% of the time. But just for argument’s sake, let’s say you draw. What makes video gaming a lesser activity than drawing? They are both hobbies one does on their own. And why is it any of your business what people are doing on their own time?

    I’m done rambling. I needed to respond to this nonsense after reading several articles about it.

    PS – This could have all been avoided if you had chosen your words more carefully and removed the attacks and sweeping generalizations you made in the original letter.

  22. UMass Alum says:

    Also, Eli, The Anime club is an official RSO (https://umassamherst.collegiatelink.net/organization/animemangaclub).

    I don’t know what “list” you’re talking about, but this is the official RSO website for UMass.

  23. Sophomore says:

    This frightens me because I read his letter and felt nothing but empathy. If I also loudly voice that I am disappointed with UMass, am I subject to the same treatment and rejection? Guess I’d better keep quiet and let the brave ones, like Tyler, say what I’m too afraid to.

    UMass is promoting sheep, not leaders.

  24. Ed Cutting says:

    If people knew how many times a year something like this happens, there would be a revolt.

    Somebody screwed up in Whitmore. We weren’t supposed to find out about this. Above all else, the Collegian wasn’t supposed to cover it.

    ACT decreed him gone. Who are we to question?

  25. Mass Hysteria says:

    People need to understand that this behavior is characteristic of those under mental stress, and that they are unpredictable. What UMass did was hedged a risk, nothing more or less. The administration was undoubtedly in a lose-lose situation, they could dismiss him or risk lives potentially if he proved unstable. What would you rather have them do? I think riots are bad enough, never mind a national shooting.

  26. Typical says:

    Why do I see a secluded compound in Montana filled w/ a cache of weapons in this kid’s future?

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