Hundreds have signed an online petition advocating for Brandon Kraut, a University of Maryland student arrested on drug charges earlier this month, to walk and graduate with the class of 2017.
Kraut, whose trial takes place in Prince George's County's Circuit Court on Tuesday, was charged with possession and intention to distribute marijuana after a raid on his College Park home, located on the 7500 block of Dickinson Avenue. Police seized 375 THC cartridges from Kraut's home on March 28. The senior communication major faces up to 5 years in jail if convicted.
560 people had signed the Change.org petition as of Sunday afternoon.
Senior finance major Mike Kapnick, who started the petition on April 26, called Kraut "one of the kindest and most selfless human beings" he knows, and said Kraut deserves to walk at graduation among his friends.
"Our hope is that the Code of Conduct board will see that Brandon is not a menace to the College Park community, but actually quite an asset," Kapnick said.
The Office of Student Conduct declined to comment on Kraut's case, but this university's Student Code of Conduct prohibits possession and distribution of illegal drugs, including off the campus. THC, the chemical compound found in marijuana, is illegal to possess in the state of Maryland. Police documents can be forwarded to this university, and violators of this rule can face suspension or expulsion.
Police dogs alerted officers of a controlled dangerous substance in a package at the post office that was addressed to the home. A resident of the house gave police permission to conduct a contents search.
Bridget Hollenbeck, a senior marketing and psychology major, said she's known Kraut since their freshman year, and the pair studied abroad together in Rome. She said she signed the petition to "take a stand for [Kraut's] character."
"When we were abroad, he was always the guy that was, if somebody needed someone to walk home with them at night, he would always take it upon him to be a friend," she said.
Kraut is a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, and fellow members said they signed the petition in recognition of Kraut's guidance and kindness.
"He helped me out through pledge, through everything," said Jordan Kessler, a freshman finance major. "I got a pretty bad injury from going to the gym early on, and it was really hard to keep doing pledge with it, and he talked to me every day to make sure I was okay."
Chad Morris, a freshman enrolled in letters and sciences, agreed.
"He was my brother-at-large for the frat and he's from my area," Morris said. "When I was rushing, he was one of the first people that came up to me and talked to me. He was just always giving me advice."
Morris said he thinks judging Kraut based on one incident, as opposed to his character as a whole, would be a mistake.
"I don't think one blemish should really destroy what someone's been working their whole life for," he said.