David Cole Withrow, a senior at North Carolina’s Princeton High School, was arrested on felony charges after he brought two unloaded shotguns to school and left the weapons in his car. The school system superintendent made provisions for Withrow, forgoing the standard 365-day suspension in favor of allowing Withrow to continue his education and graduate at another school.
Kim Boykin, a family friend of the Withrow family, told reporters that David is “an Eagle Scout, a guy who made a mistake, and he doesn't deserve to have his diploma not have Princeton High School on it. He doesn't deserve to not walk across the stage with his friends that he's known since pre-school."
Things might seem rough for David at the moment, but his plans for higher education actually look rather promising. Withrow has received two scholarship offers, one from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas and another from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Both are private Christian schools; Liberty University was led by televangelist Jerry Falwell. His son, Jerry Falwell Jr., said, "We think [David] is a victim of a system that is a little bit, maybe, too overly sensitive to certain things. There has to be room for honest mistakes, and right now, I don't think the law does that."
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This is an odd turn of events for David Withrow. On the one hand, he still faces criminal charges and expects to go to court on May 16th. His chances for attending college might be seriously affected by the criminal charges.
On the other hand, universities giving scholarships to Withrow for breaking the law sets a dangerous precedent. It’s almost as if these universities are rewarding Withrow for bringing a gun to school. Could this be enough to persuade other students to fish for scholarships by violating the law?
Probably not, but it does create an odd dynamic between students, universities, and the legal system. Are these universities doing the right thing by offering Withrow a break after allegedly making a simple mistake, or are they treading into dangerous territory by incentivizing illegal activity?