Brutally Honest: Second Chances are Deserved


Denny Patterson, Senior Editor

I cannot believe it is time to say this again, but welcome back Millikin students and faculty! I hope you all had an enjoyable summer, even if it felt nonexistent. We are back and ready to go.

Let’s jump right into a controversial topic that has stirred worldwide attention. That’s right; let’s talk about Dr. James St. James.

Millikin University Psychology professor Dr. James St. James has been identified as the man who killed his mother, father and sister when he was 15 years old. Formerly known as Jim Wolcott, the teenage boy was reported to sniff airplane glue and then set out on his murderous rampage. While being tried, Wolcott was declared not guilty by reason of insanity after being diagnosed with a mental illness. He then spent six years in a psychiatric hospital and was released when a judge believed him to be sane.

This is the story that has permeated the media for several weeks. From social media to CNN, this is a story that is unimaginably shocking. Millikin is a small liberal arts school, secrets do not evolve that much. Although students are pretty open with each other, that doesn’t necessarily mean the faculty and staff are. How well do we really know our professors?

It is unfortunate that Millikin has become accustomed to controversy over the past year. Millikin’s stability came into question when Dr. Harold Jeffcoat resigned from the presidency last semester. In addition, numerous other administration officials such Barry Pearson and Rich Dunsworth also left the institution. This might seem like business and politics, but the story about St. James is a different level.

St. James has called Decatur his home for the past 27 years. He is one of Millikin’s most beloved professors. A man who has dedicated countless hours to helping students and faculty and has even won awards for his teaching. Does that really sound like a monster to you?

Face it; some media have portrayed St. James as a monster. As a member of the media, I am appalled by what some newspapers said and their approach to the story. Even worse, it was upsetting what people around the country were saying. People who have never even set foot on Millikin’s campus were bashing him. “St. James shouldn’t be trusted.” “There’s a possible chance for St. James to relapse and strike again.”

I understand this is a scary situation, but how dare these close-minded individuals judge.  This is a crime that happened 46 years ago. There is another side that isn’t being taken into consideration.

Isn’t St. James a leading example as to what the judicial system should be? Remember, he was found innocent to his crime due to reason of insanity. But once he was released from the psychiatric hospital, he made a life for himself. He pursued and education and became a productive member of society. This is something St. James has to live with for the rest of his life. It’s embedded into his memories, but he has learned from his mistakes.

Finally, I understand that some faculty and staff at this institution may have a different point of view, and that is perfectly fine. Everyone is allowed to have their own thoughts and opinions on the matter. Fear or apprehension is understandable. We all have our opinions on St. James and that is okay. But he’s here, and I personally think the university made a good decision. He is still the same St. James we all know and love. I wouldn’t be afraid to take one of his classes. Second chances are deserved.