Written by John Face
December 18, 2021
City Watch NEWS – Albion
Photo by John Face
On Tuesday evening at the Kresge gym on the campus of Albion College, President Mathew Johnson did something that was so unbelievable that many refused to believe it happened. We all have found out what happened as the week progressed.
On Friday December 17 City Watch NEWS along with other NEWS outlets and her supporters attended a Press Conference that was called in order for Mrs. Lias to tell her side of the story and mostly to refute the narrative coming from Johnson and the college.
I believe Hazel Lias
On Thursday City Watch received a copy of an email sent by Johnsons Chief of Staff Kelly Finn (copy of that email is below) to members of the College Board of Trustees and other executives. Take a few minutes to read this email as it appears filled with errors. At the time of the email the only narrative out there was what was coming from President Johnsons supporters who were claiming that NEWS reports were a lie, the situation was not totally true etc.
Johnson supporters are out in mass this week. One has made it a point to change the narrative from Hazel Lias being verbally assaulted in a threatening way to John Face is a liar and racist. I laughed at this person’s comments. Everything this idiot said is a lie, but these are the tactics that Johnson supporters want to use. See changing the narrative from Mrs. Lias in fear of this man’s action to “the whole thing is overblown, or some reporter is a liar and racist gets people forgetting that Mat Johnson went after Hazel and did it very easily. Almost like this may be something he has done before.
So where are we now? Hazel Lias, a matriarch in our town was verbally abused by this man because he was clueless about what he was saying. If you watch the video of the press conference and read her comments below and think we can move on from this, well that is sad. There really is only one ending and that is Mat Johnson must leave Albion College.
I believe Hazel Lias
Hazel Lias is a woman whom I have known most of my life and respected that entire time. She has helped shape the lives of the young men and women she saw every single day. These “kids” today are expressing their loyalty, love and support decades after they left school. Mat Johnson must leave Albion College.
You can’t get in the face of any woman and act threatening in our town, especially Hazel Lias. You crossed the one line that we all will stand up and defend. I sat at the press conference listening yesterday and as Mrs. Lias began to break down my heart ached. She is loved and didn’t deserve to be treated like a second-class citizen by a man that acted as a superior to her. He is certainly not superior to her, and if you want to continue to support Mat Johnson, well that is saying a lot about you and your character, and that’s not a good thing.
Mat Johnson must leave Albion College for good and
I believe Hazel Lias
Kelly Finn Email
Dear Board of Trustees,
I am writing to clarify the events over the last few days and to provide context for all of you.
The events began last Friday when a small group of students (about 30) assembled on the Quad to protest the way the College had handled a student m3qental health issue. That issue led to the student being advised that they should take a medical leave to seek the care we were unable to provide. Leroy handled the issue expertly. However, the student claimed she was mistreated by the College and misrepresented what took place which led to a demonstration on campus. We made the decision that Dr J would not attend the demonstration and hold space for Leroy to lead as VP of Student Development. Dr J did not attend.
Three off-campus individuals came to the demonstration after having publicized it in the community. Those three individuals were:
- Morris Arvoy, a former employee of the college who was involuntarily separated from the College when Bob was hired or thereabouts. He has been one of the members of the community agitating on social media.
- John Face, a local blogger who has been providing misinformation for months.
- Maurice Barry, a member of the Black community who often interacts with students.
As reported by Leroy and Ashley, who stood outside with students for over two hours, the three individuals from off campus were contributing to the escalation of the demonstration in a variety of ways. The escalation became so caustic that Leroy was personally attacked. That evening and over the weekend, Dr J reached out to Leroy to support him. Late Sunday he wrote Dr J a long text expressing his appreciation for the support and sharing that over the weekend he had considered resigning because of the attack on him. He finished that message saying he was now in a better place and looking forward to the Cabinet retreat that we were heading into on Monday and Tuesday.
On Monday at the Cabinet retreat, Dr J made space for Leroy to share about how he felt with the team. We processed it together as a Cabinet for about 45 minutes or so. He said he felt affirmed by the support. We lightly discussed as a team that there needed to be a more proactive approach to managing the off-campus participants but moved into the retreat proper. Dr J discussed privately with Leroy and Keena and me the possibility of banning them from campus. We all agreed to think on it for a few days as we were away at the retreat anyway.
On Tuesday we all came home from the retreat in the evening. Dr J went directly to the basketball game to say a few words about Jeff Weedman’s generous gift and the dedication of the game. After the halftime events, Hazel Lias approached Dr J and asked about the t-shirts that were made for the game. A limited number were made and they had all been given out. He retrieved the one that was designated for him from the bleachers and held it up, handing it to her. As he did, he asked her for help with addressing Maurice’s part on Friday explaining that he didn’t want to overreact. Hazel had offered to Dr J to call on her for help at any time and he was trying to ask for her help. She said to him that she would take care of it and they parted ways on what he thought was a positive interaction. Joe and Donna Calvaruso witnessed the interaction.
Nevertheless, his words, actions, and perhaps tone offended Hazel. She reached out to Marc and told him so. Marc informed us of that on Wednesday morning and Dr J asked for his help and guidance as well as Keena’s with making amends. Dr J also texted an apology to Hazel immediately. She responded and asked for a one-on-one. Dr J apologized in that meeting and she said she accepted the apology and forgave him.
Today, at 6 am Hazel called Dr J to assure him she did not have anything to do with the social media reports, that she will do her best to correct the record that he never touched her, and that she will tell anyone that she has forgiven him. She also asked that we share the same with anyone who asks.
We met with the Cabinet this morning and we discussed the situation. Marc is very upset by it as he has familial and other connections to Hazel. At one point he excused himself from the meeting. Keena explained to the cabinet that because of community expectations Marc may feel he has to leave Albion because of his responsibility to support Hazel even though she has accepted the apology. Dr J asked the team to step forward as a team and work together on this as Dr J cannot lead the response because of the role he played and the issues being litigated in public.
We met as a team after our earlier conversation, talked through the issues and agreed to work together with the best interest of the College in mind. At the same time, Keena and Ashley met with Hazel to discuss the issue and a shared way forward in relation to the situation in this community that this creates. Keena and Ashley will lead our response related to the community.
Susie and I will work with Mike to determine what our response from a communications perspective should be. We will bring in outside consultation as needed. While Dr J is deeply concerned with resolving this situation appropriately, he and the team have all agreed that he cannot be the public face and voice of these efforts given his involvement. I will work closely with the Board and Cabinet to ensure our shared strategy reflects the Board’s vision and in close consultation with Mathew.
I am happy to talk with anyone who would like more information.
Hazel Lias Remarks
REMARKS BY Hazel Lias
It has been a strange couple of days — EVEN FOR ALBION!! I never expected to be in this position, but as you all know, I have never been afraid to speak my mind. I want to share with you my version of events from the other night.:
I was at the game at the College on Tuesday. I saw the t-shirts designed for the event and jokingly said I wanted one. I was walked over to Dr. Johnson to get one. Johnson pointed his finger in my face and told me to control my friend Mo. He said if he came on campus again he would be banned. I had no idea what he was talking about. At that point, he threw the t-shirt at my chest. I was startled and deeply concerned by his tone and his intimidating body language.
To be clear, Johnson did not physically hit me. But I did feel threatened by his behavior and anger that he was directing towards me as he was pointing his finger in my face.:
While I understand that a statement issued by Albion College says that Johnson “held up the t-shirt and handed it over” – that also is not true! The t-shirt was thrown at me andnot in a friendly way by Johnson. In fact, there was nothing friendly or respectful in how he was addressing me at all.
At the game, Johnson was indicating that Big Mo was instigating the student protest on campus and had assaulted Leroy.
Johnson said that he would give me the t-shirt, but that he wanted me to tell Mo that he was no longer allowed on the college campus and threatened to have Mo jailed if he setfoot on the campus again.
I was upset. I quickly left and immediately called Mo and asked what had happened andhad he talked to the people that Johnson had mentioned. Mo told me he had not.
I checked also with others who also confirmed that Mo had not addressed them at the protest.
Wednesday evening, I received a call from a gentleman who wanted to meet me and explain something regarding the incident. He came to my home and introduced himself as “Mo” — Morris Arvoy! :He said that I am the Mo that Johnson is upset about being at the college campus protest!
You can imagine my surprise, as this small white man does look anything like Big Mo over here. So, I couldn’t see how anyone could get them confused!! He further said that Big Mo was only there to be supportive of the students and was not involved in any other way that would be considered a problem.
I received a text message from Johnson. He at first offered to meet and have Dr. AshleyWoodson be there also. We agreed to meet one on one in the hotel lobby
Although he did apologize at the about the incident and I accepted his apology…I also made it very clear that this was the 2nd strike! This was the 2nd time that he had disrespected me publicly for no good reason. And, that was something that I was not going to get over.
There was a lot of information and rumors going around and stories in the social media. Not all of the details were completely accurate.
Yesterday, I called Johnson to just let him know that I was not saying to anyone that he physically hit me.
Two college officials came over yesterday to help me draft a statement, but I had them tear it up, because what they wanted to say did not acknowledge that it was totally inappropriate for Johnson to treat ANY WOMAN in such a disrespectful and threatening way. There was no intention of holding Johnson accountable for his bullying behavior.
I did offer to help set the record straight, which is why I am here today.
He is NOT the VICTIM! And, I will not stand by quietly as his supporters attempt to shame me for speaking the truth!