Friday, November 21, 2014

Confusing the Mission

The Rolling Stones article, that appeared this week focused on allegations of criminal violence at the University of Virginia, shows what can happen when institutions depart from their main mission.

At the first hint of criminal activities occurring in the University environment, the police should have been alerted.  Had this happened on each occasion that criminal allegations were alleged, it is very likely that the types of things described in the Rolling Stones article would, by now, be a thing of the past.  Nothing gets the point across better than seeing the perpetrators draw long jail terms for their criminal activity.  No amount of moralizing can make up for simply turning the problem over to the proper authorities.

The publicity that would result from police investigations of criminal activity -- perp walks and all -- would provide solid and useful information for undergraduates about the real dangers that may exist for them in raucous party environments.  Every parent of every college student and every college student should read the Rolling Stones article.  This information should not be suppressed or ignored.

Imagine that the young people involved in the events described in the RS article had not been students, but instead been working members of the community.  No doubt, the likelihood of police involvement at an early stage would have been much more likely.  Would University staff dealing with the situation respond in the same way, if the assailants were non-students? 

Universities don't belong in the criminal justice system.  That's what we have police and courts for.  If it's an allegation of a crime, turn the information over to the police.  Period.

The prime mission of a university is education -- not criminal justice.  

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