IWU Dismissal Ten Years Later September 27, 2001 was the last time Ava Zinn sat foot on IWU Marion campus
- September
Posted By : Ava Zinn
IWU Dismissal Ten Years Later September 27, 2001 was the last time Ava Zinn sat foot on IWU Marion campus

Posted on September 27, 2011

The dismissal of yours truly and the chain reaction that followed is perhaps one of the most infamous college dismissals. It is certainly one of the most frustrating. Over the years after that fateful Thursday morning, a suspect confessed and recanted several times. But as of March 2011, the prime suspect of my IWU dismissal is identified.
Two bags of Lay’s Potato Chips and two 12-12 ounce cans of Coca-Cola were on sale at Lance’s New Market and K-Mart, respectively for $10.50 on the week that changed my life forever. I can also say that on September 27, 2001, my wife was at the south side Marion Marsh picking up a jar of Ragù Spaghetti Sauce (for 88 cents each) and bananas (38 cents a pound) and the CVS pharmacy next door to get a couple of two-liters of Coca-Cola (which were also on sale at $1.99 for two,) and then stopping at the Speedway station to get gas for the car. It would be the very last time that my wife and to a much more severe extent, yours truly would ever set foot in that area.
In September 2001, I was among the more than 700 freshmen and new students at Indiana Wesleyan University. There was a lot of construction, remodeling, and apparently, as it turned out maybe the potential cause of what I always have believed to this day ten years later that caused my dis-enrollment from Indiana Wesleyan University. There were many services that should have been available for yours truly, such as a commuter’s lounge at IWU (that was not available), and the suggestion of a food pantry. Had those been available PRIOR to ten years ago today, I would have officially be posting as an alumnus of Indiana Wesleyan University.
I was a typical 18-year-old college freshman whose life revolved around media and education. I lived with my mother, Margaret, my brother, Albert, and to a lesser extent, my newlywed wife, Angela, in a comfortable three-bedroom home on North Branson Street in the near northeast side of Marion. The household also consisted of my youngest nephew (Albert’s boy), Baxter, turning 3 that October, and my boy, Timothy Rags, turning two that November. Angela had her own place in Gas City.
September 27, 2001, started like any other fall morning for the Zinn’s. My mother, Margaret, 58, planned her day over a cup of coffee and in poor health. Yours truly went to college as usual just sixteen days after the horrific tragedy of 9/11. Angela was helping Albert getting prepared for his new job at Leroy’s, while Baxter and Timothy “Rags” were watched cartoons on the family couch. Angela was heading to the gym but needed to run a few errands for herself before going to her doctor’s appointment over in Gas City.
Angie fed Rags a hot dog and took him out for a walk while Baxter watching the Game Show Network. Rushed for time, Angela let it go. And besides, it was unusually mild, around 57-60 degrees already. Angela, Albert, and I got into what was considered to be the family car, a tan 1981 Ford F-150, and took off to run errands. Angela had to get her car (a Chevy Lumina) out of Integrity. At the time there were family issues with my step-grandfather, which I will explain in more detail at a later date.
After dropping off yours truly at IWU, Albert dropped Angela off to the Marsh store in the Panamora Plaza, to see about some items they had on sale, (the spaghetti sauce and bananas). Angela entered the store and walked past the customer service desk and entered the grocery department. It was around 9:00 a.m. There were tons of construction at the Indiana Wesleyan University Student Center which lacked a Commuter’s Lounge. Also hampering were family budget trouble (at least with yours truly and Angie), which did not help matters at all, and it would go downhill from there for the next several years.

What Are the Next Steps?

In the fall of 2001, yours truly was living the Hoosier dream. I was starting to build a degree in Special Education and had the potential to build a successful teaching career.

Only five to ten minutes after being informed that I was dis-enrolled from Indiana Wesleyan University, most of my friends from school were wondering “Where’s Frank?”. They had no idea that I was no longer enrolled from Indiana Wesleyan University. I informed my professors and a few of my friends at IWU that I had been suspended (but I did not tell them 100%). I will never forget my mother’s expression when she threw her hands as if she was successful (and did not even care as she was in bad health from Type II diabetes, which she would eventually die from on May 10, 2002, and my brother would eventually take his own life three months later on August 10, 2002) that I was dismissed from Indiana Wesleyan University; my wife, on the other hand, was extremely devastated (and this was only four months after I got married, I remember Angie in tears saying “Who would do this to my husband?”), and I was pretty sure that the marriage would not work (Angie would suffer a fatal heart attack June 1, 2010).

My search for another college that September afternoon grew into a years-long search for answers: Who caused yours truly to be dis-enrolled from IWU? Why did this happen? When will I return to IWU? But in the months (and later years) that followed, the harsh reality set in.

Finally, A Break?

As the months and years went by with little progress on my IWU readmission, in August 2002, a woman I took to the Mississinewa 500, reportedly confessed to causing my dis-enrollment from IWU. It was the beginning of a whole new emotional roller coaster for yours truly, and assistance from Cornerstone was needed after Dr. Maloney apparently screwed my education up to and Vocational Rehabilitation did not offer a solution. It was also the beginning of a much bigger change that changed my family’s landscape forever.

After numerous consulting over at Cornerstone, a client of the mental health facility told me to take the university to civil court for “wrongful dismissal” even though the Indiana Statues of Limitations expired on September 27, 2007.

Denied Closure

That very night my brother, Albert, took his own life in August 2002 sat off at a dramatic event in my life lead to more weaknesses exposed, such as more financial problems that stemmed from not only my IWU dismissal and failing to find another college plus the deaths of my mother and brother: The person responsible for my IWU dismissal had been located and confessed. I thought we were on the way to closure.

Yours truly, then a 19-year-old and my wife, then 24, newly-wed had separated a month after Albert’s death but reconciled after I came out as a transgender lady and began transitioning on December 1, 2004. But there was still no IWU readmission. Without a new college to attend, thus the college credits from IVY Tech (or another college/University) needed to transfer back to IWU, things only worse.

I never did set foot in the Indiana Wesleyan University area after September 27, 2001. A No-IWU Zone (similar to no-fly zones) was and to this day are still in place. I prayed that the “system will not break down and that I would finally get readmitted to IWU.”

But 10 years later (now as a woman), there is still no resolution nor any leads that will get yours truly to get readmitted to IWU (or at least a favorable solution). Without evidence to tie a suspect to my dis-enrollment, and applying for Supplemental Security Income, the Social Security Administration decided that I needed a representative payee and that lead to more disastrous consequences. More problems than solutions came.

Evidence Lost, A Painful Mystery Remains

What may be the most bizarre twist in my dis-enrolment from Indiana Wesleyan University was after reviewing the September 27, 2001, letter and realizing with the death of my mother, the suicide of my brother, and lack of overall support eventually leading to coming out as a transwoman and on January 4, 2004 (the day that not only I turned 21, but also the day I began living as a woman). After coming out as a transgender woman, I realized that many of the requirements needed to return to IWU would no longer work out as a biological male as it turned out.

If I had waited a full year and attended a college/university in the fall of 2002 instead of attending college in the fall of 2001, things would’ve turned out much different with or without coming out as a transwoman.

My dis-enrolment from IWU on September 27, 2001, was riddled with mistakes and missed opportunities, not because of a direct maliciousness towards me, but because like many small college towns with a big campus like Indiana Wesleyan University and mental health organizations like Cornerstone. Life Center Counselling, Indiana Wesleyan University, and Cornerstone Behavioral Health, specifically Dr. Vance Maloney of Life Center Counselling and Jennie Conrad of IWU held onto their pride, wanting to handle the case their way.

There’s now no mistake that many believe that Indiana Wesleyan University lacked the experience of the fact they had a commuter’s lounge that should have been available and favored students living on campus, and whether Maloney or Conrad, or to an extent two IWU alums I’m not mentioning (one was an IWU classmate and the other is the sister of someone I went to school with) or even anyone overseeing the renovations at the time realizes it 10 years later on September 27, 2011, they lacked the experience of dealing with someone who had been a retailer and a webmaster with experience, and now as it had been painfully aware when Tricia Reitler disappeared, obviously lacked the experience to even know when to ask for help when they need it.

It is a broken-hearted process for yours truly, who will never know what really happened and 100 percent why it happened and most importantly to bring justice.

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