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Chronicle Exclusive: Expelled students speak out
Four of the six students who were expelled following an Oct. 28 party at a privately owned Hamden home are taking legal action against Quinnipiac.
Jeffrey Saliture, Yusef Qasim, Tony Falangas and Michael Solebello are suing Quinnipiac for allegedly breaking a federal law by announcing their removal to the press. The students allege that they did not receive a fair hearing at the school.
The four students who are suing spoke to The Chronicle about what happened that cool October evening. The students told The Chronicle they hope the lawsuit forces the university to overturn its disciplinary actions and allows them to finish their degrees.
“My whole life has changed,” Yusef Qasim said. “I wanted to graduate with my friends.”
The other two students who were expelled, Michael Persico and Ben Baroody, are not taking part in the legal action.
Falangas described an evening that quickly turned from one that was planned to include just a few friends to one of complete chaos.
He said he had planned to have a small party of approximately 40 friends, all of legal drinking age, to celebrate the coming of Halloween.
Falangas said that he and his housemates at 3211 Whitney Ave. called 911 after dozens of uninvited students began to descend on his small brick home.
“When we noticed students were flooding in by Quinnipiac shuttles, we thought we should do something,” he said.
Unfortunately for the former students, the first call resulted in no assistance from the Hamden authorities, according to Falangas. The students then decided to call the police a second time.
He said after the party was broken up by police, he and his housemates went to the department. Once he returned home, Falangas thought the incident was over.
But on the Monday following the party, Oct. 31, Falangas was asked to report to Quinnipiac. Later that day a university official told him that he and his housemates were “dismissed” but that the six students would not be expelled.
Falangas said that university officials continued to switch their story back and forth and “had no idea what to do.”
After Falangas and his housemates were out of class for approximately two weeks, Harry Needham, a university investigator, told them that he believed they did nothing warranting expulsion, according to Falangas.
Needham would not comment on the case.
Falangas said he was deemed a “threat to the university” by Carol Boucher, associate dean of student affairs. Falangas asked, “How are we a threat to the university?” In an e-mailed response to a request for an interview, Boucher wrote, “I am unable to comment on 3211 Whitney or anything related to that case.”
Falangas said that Boucher is the administrator that “came up with the charges, tried us on the charges and convicted us of them.”
Falangas said the six expelled students were each set back one or two whole years in their lives. In addition to the time lost, Falangas said because they are not currently enrolled in college, they are forced to begin repayment of their student loans and insurance, in addition to having to pay rent for a house that is not being used.
Manuel Carreiro, Vice President and Dean of Students at Quinnipiac, was “sympathetic. He said he wished he could do something,” Falangas said. “We were lied to and misled the whole time.”
Carreiro had no comment on this case.
At present, Falangas said he and his housemates are “expelled for good, [but] could petition to get back in for the fall.” However, he said there is “no guarantee to get back in.”
Falangas questions the reason behind his expulsion.
“It’s all about money; money, money, money,” he said. “The university doesn’t care about student rights. We were treated very unfairly.”
Jeffrey Saliture, one of the students suing, said Quinnipiac alumnus Steve Scalora created a Facebook invitation and sent it to individuals around campus. Saliture said Quinnipiac got a hold of the invitation and knew that Scalora did not live there.
“They had the responsibility to tell the kids about the invitation circulating,” he said.
Saliture said the university called the police and requested a raid of the party.
“We were sabotaged,” Falangas said.
The chief of security at Quinnipiac, John Twining, said: “This is being subject to litigation and I cannot comment.”
Michael Solebello, a third student participating in the lawsuit, wrote in an e-mail to The Chronicle, “Quinnipiac has always been a great place that I always held in the highest regard. I talked very positively about the community and the friends that I have made at QU. My life at the moment isn’t horrible, however I would be a senior and graduating this May with my friends who have been with me through thick and thin. Now, I can’t share that timeless moment anymore. If the school has its students in their best interest, why not confront us before the night happened to see if we knew about the invitation?”
The fourth student in the lawsuit, Yusef Qasim accuses security of looking up the Facebook invitation one week prior to the party and reporting the party to the Hamden police.
“How can Quinnipiac be proud of setting up its students?” he asked.
Qasim said it is very difficult to stop a growing party, especially as university shuttles continued to transport more and more students to the party.
The six former students hired two private investigators to look into the case.
“We have spent thousands of dollars to redeem ourselves,” Falangas said. “This is not going to end until we are all satisfied.”
The university’s director of Public Relations, John Morgan, declined to comment for this story.