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Petition calls for accountability regarding how Roanoke College handles misconduct cases

'I just really hope that ... they make the appropriate changes to ensure that this doesn’t happen to students ever again'

SALEM, Va – As a petition with almost 2,000 signatures calls for change from Roanoke College leaders, one alumna is sharing her story of potential misconduct.

The petition accuses Dean of Students Brian Chisom of alleged sexism and victim blaming when handling cases of misconduct.

When Courtney Crowder got pregnant with her son during her junior year at Roanoke College, she immediately started making a game plan. She and her son’s father went to Chisom to ask permission to move off campus so they could raise their child. Crowder said Chisom required her to get a sonogram to show proof of her pregnancy.

“So we took the sonogram back to him a few days later and he was absolutely rude about it, I mean he was like mocking the sonogram, saying you couldn’t tell what it was and holding it sideways and scoffing saying, ‘What even is this?‘” Roanoke College Alumna Courtney Crowder said.

According to a College Spokesperson, Roanoke College has policies in place when it comes to requesting accommodations for off campus housing, requiring students to have evidence for the move, potentially including providing a sonogram. Below is the full statement from Roanoke College:

“Roanoke College does have policies related to the residential requirement for our students and a process for students to request special housing accommodations (i.e., permission to move off campus.) In those policies students are expected to provide evidence that they meet the criteria for the accommodation request. While we cannot comment on specific confidential information about our students, it is possible that a sonogram might be provided as part of proving a student would soon have children, which would be one reason for receiving an accommodation. Other options such as a doctor’s note would be acceptable in such cases as well. "

“I knew in the moment he was incredibly wrong and the way he was reacting was absolutely inappropriate but I was also in the middle of an absolute crisis, so I didn’t have the notion to fight back to it and looking back now, I wish I had,” Crowder said.

Crowder hopes the investigation is a turning point for Roanoke College, as she hopes her son will follow her footsteps and attend the school as his parents did when he’s old enough.

“I just really hope that Roanoke College takes it seriously and they make the appropriate changes to ensure that this doesn’t happen to students ever again,” Crowder said.

10 News reached out to Brian Chisom directly for comment, but an automatic email reply claims that he is out of office until August 5th.

The President of Roanoke College said he will be in contact with the community as the investigation continues and the college investigates other allegations of potential misconduct.

About the Author:

Annie Schroeder joined the 10 News team as a reporter in June 2020 and is no stranger to Southwest Virginia.