Smouse found the message odd, especially because Hunter usually was very communicative and it was unlike him to let students come all the way to campus just to find out that class was canceled. "Why didn't he just e-mail us?" she wondered.
Turns out, Dr. Hunter was never coming back.
A substitute arrived the next week, and students were told that Hunter wouldn't return that semester. Smouse says she and other students were worried about him at first.
Then, rumors began to swirl. Jokes about Hunter getting fired for sleeping with a student soon turned into campus-wide gossip.
But Barrett's administration remained silent. Smouse says she was disappointed in the lack of transparency, especially given the tight-knit nature of the school.
And she began to hear another rumor: This wasn't the first time something like this had happened at Barrett.
When an anonymously written blog post confirmed the gossip about Hunter, Smouse, a young journalist in training, responded the only way she knew how. She wrote about it, in an April 14 opinion piece for ASU's campus newspaper, The State Press.
"Unfortunately, the professor's controversial dismissal seems to have been left largely untouched by Barrett administration," she wrote. "Rumors buzzing and parental concerns rising, the spotlight is shining brightly on the college's lack of acknowledgement. Many also see firing the professor as a cop-out, simply sweeping the problem under the rug of Barrett embarrassments. By cutting out the professor, it seems the college hoped to avoid confronting the situation all together."
Turns out, sweeping Barrett's troubles under the rug hasn't been so easy.