UI alleges drug use against professor

Campus wide alert says Bennett is banned from campus

CARMEN JARAMILLO, Evergreen reporter

A University of Idaho campus-wide alert sent out Wednesday morning alleged that Denise Bennett, associate professor of journalism, was a security threat to the campus. The alert instructed students and staff to call the police if she was seen.

The alert stated Bennett had recently admitted methamphetamine use to police and had access to firearms.

Bennett was placed on administrative leave last week.

After being placed on leave, Bennett livestreamed herself on Tuesday reading aloud a letter from Sean Quinlan, interim dean of the college of letters, arts and social sciences, regarding the decision to place her on administrative leave.

According to the letter, Bennett was placed on administrative leave after a confrontation with Quinlan and another university employee.

This confrontation was reported by The Argonaut to have happened after an expletive-filled email Bennett sent was circulated around the university. Bennett was upset over the university’s procedures for handling grant funding, according to the email.

Chuck Staben, UI president, addressed the alert in a campus-wide email Thursday morning. He wrote that Bennett’s behavior leading up to Wednesday, coupled with planned student protests in support of Bennett and information provided by law enforcement, led to the issuance of the alert.

“We believed the situation to be very serious and the information relevant and important to convey the reality of our concerns to the community,” Staben wrote in the email.

The allegations of drug use and firearms access originated from a November 2018 Moscow Police report that was provided to UI after an officer recognized Bennett during her livestream, according to The Argonaut.

The report states that police responded to a domestic dispute Nov. 4 and made contact with Bennett and her husband. Bennett then admitted to police she had used methamphetamine the day before.

This report contributed to UI’s decision to send out the Wednesday morning alert, according to Staben’s email.

While the university is still attempting to communicate with Bennett regarding her employment, she remains banned from the campus, Staben wrote.

The November police report was obtained through a public records request by The Argonaut and provided to The Daily Evergreen.