Elizabeth Thompson knows a lot about the intersection at Brown and Stewart streets.
At least once a week for nearly 14 years, the associate professor of electrical engineering at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne has held one of several protest signs near the University of Dayton’s main gate.
The messages have a definite theme: `Stop the Academic Fraud,’ `Hazing Is Not Leadership With Virtue’ and ‘Stop the Hypocrisy’
The neon sign Thompson — among other things IPFW’s faculty adviser for the Society of Women Engineers — toted Monday read: “Hazing is illegal. Stop the Harassment.”
The university has long rebuffed Thompson’s long list of complaints.
The pivotal claim is that she was given a `B’ in an engineering master’s course when she earned an `A.’
She said she was told the lower grade was given to teach her respect. The ‘B’ was so devastating that it made her cry for weeks.
Before the incident, Thompson had all A’s and a 4.0 grade average. While appealing the grade, she went on to earn her doctorate from UD. She subsequently became a professor at the Indiana university.
Thompson said UD made her an outcast when she complained and has not made an attempt to resolve the situation since January 2000.
University officials have said that Thompson’s claims have been determined to be unfounded despite conferences, hearings and a mediation session at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. In 2007, one official said her transcripts couldn’t be changed as she desires.
“She is a graduate and has been part of our campus community; we regret that she has not found closure on this issue,” the university said it in a statement this week .
There has definitely been no closure, but the world definitely has kept spinning.
Since Thompson started her campaign at the intersection of Stewart and Brown streets, and surrounding areas have changed dramatically. NCR is gone. UD has expanded and there are dozens of new shops and restaurants near the corridor.
Slim and petite, Thompson has withstood heat and cold during her protest of actions by the university she calls “unethical, immoral and illegal.”
Others see her as a whack job.
Although she was reluctant to admit it — she maintains most people believe she is ‘fighting the good fight” — Thompson has been the butt of many jokes.
She is known by many simply as the “No Hazing Lady.”
As I reported in 2003, students in the past have held counter-protests, toting signs with slogans that read `I’m her Pimp,’ `Stop the Academic Broad’ and `Get a Life.’
Those students are likely well into their careers by now.
Thompson’s campaign continues.
During the school year she’s out there from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at least once a week. In the summer the mother of two adult children gets started around 11 a.m.
Thompson declined to be videotaped Monday.
She wore sunglasses and a top and matching red shorts. She sometimes uses an umbrella to help protect her skin from the sun.
Thompson still maintains that the university is in the wrong and that she will maintain her fight until justice is served.
“I may not change their minds, but I will not be in complicity by my silence,” she said. “I am taking a stand. I am not in any hurry.”
Like many, I wondered if Thompson has considered how much time she has wasted standing at the intersection of Brown and Stewart.
October will officially mark the protest’s 14th anniversary.
Those years are gone, and UD shows no signs that it thinks it has done anything inappropriate.
Thompson is surely determined and says she has always been.
Wouldn’t that determination be better placed elsewhere?
Thompson says ‘no’ and that it has all worth the fight.
“They have convinced themselves they are not wrong,” Thompson said. “This is the only way to change their way of thinking.”
What do you think?
Should Elizabeth Thompson continue to ‘fight the good fight’ or should she move on?
Share your thoughts below.
Contact this columnist at arobinson@DaytonDailyNews.com or Twitter.com/DDNSmartMouth