WHEELING, W.Va. — In the midst of finals week, about 30 West Liberty University students staged a protest Wednesday to let administrators know they’re unhappy that former President Robin Capehart continues collecting a paycheck from the institution.
Capehart resigned as president March 15 amid allegations he violated the state Ethics Act, after WLU’s Board of Governors approved a deal reassigning him a legislative liaison and consultant to the school through the end of the year. Prior to the Board of Governors approving the new agreement, the board’s attorney advised them that terminating Capehart’s contract likely would lead to a lawsuit.
He is still receiving the $220,000 salary and $1,000 monthly vehicle reimbursement he had been earning as president, but he is no longer receiving benefits such as health insurance and retirement contributions.
Students who participated in Wednesday’s protest gathered beneath the flagpole in the middle of the quad, many of them holding signs bearing messages such as “Justice,” and “Enough is Enough.” Some laid textbooks at the base of the flagpole to symbolize the cost of an education, and their belief the university’s money could be better spent.
Andrea Renshaw, a senior biology major, said deep cuts to academic budgets due to WLU’s financial struggles are having an effect on students. For example, she said, lab equipment needs to be replaced.
“We saw how effective the ceramics protest was, so we know that they will listen to us,” added Rosalie Haizlett, a junior graphic design major, referring to WLU’s decision to back away from a plan to close several buildings on campus – including the ceramics studio – after dozens of students demonstrated their opposition by placing pieces of handmade pottery on the stage during a recent faculty meeting.
The protest even drew a few former students who said they still have friends at WLU and still care about the school even though they no longer are enrolled there. Kylie Gray said she left WLU for financial reasons, but enjoyed her time there.
“We could have a better campus, but we’re worrying about whether (Capehart’s) going to sue us,” Gray said.
University officials were unavailable Wednesday for comment.
Capehart has denied the charges against him, which allege he used university resources to further his private film company.
The state Ethics Commission has scheduled a hearing in the matter for June 29 at the Mountainside Conference Center in Bethany.