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.
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in Southwest criticizing social interaction at UMass and announcing his intentions to start a “friends club,” has withdrawn from the University.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Molander posted on Facebook at approximately 6 p.m. yesterday that he had withdrawn from UMass following a request to do so from the administration.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 email@example.com.