Tuesday, February 27, 2007

EMU's silence on killing angers students

This is a difficult post for me. And no doubt, it will upset some in my family. Laura was my cousin, and as much as her death hurt us all, I'm hoping some of the things in this article will start conversations in your families. Conversations about safety - both in your homes and in the places your children call home when they leave the nest. Dorms, apartment buildings, shared houses. And take it a step further. Talk about safety at laundromats, bars and restaurants, parties and shopping centers. Dads, talk to your girls. Moms, teach your boys how to help watch over their girl friends. Print this post and use it as a starting point if you need to. OR forward the link to your students away at college. Sometimes a little fear is a good thing - if it leads to caution.

By Nardy Baeza Bickel
The Grand Rapids Press
YPSILANTI -- After Laura Dickinson's body was found in her dorm last December, Eastern Michigan University security officials began reviewing video surveillance, looking for clues as to how the 22-year-old student from Hastings died.
What they saw worried them.
Consistently, students were leaving dorm doors open and letting strangers into the residence hall after hours.
On Sunday, university staff, safety officers and housing administrators spoke to about 50 students and a handful of parents to discuss safety and tell them about murder charges filed in Dickinson's death in her Hill Hall room.
Students posted criticism of the university on Internet blogs, saying administrators kept students in the dark until Friday, when student Orange Amir Taylor III, 20, of Southfield, was arrested and charged with murder and criminal sexual conduct.
"From the student's perspective, all we were told was that there were 'hints' or suspicions of violence, but nothing for sure," said student Kayla Potter, who said she would have liked more information on the investigation. "Then we found out that they had arrested a suspect two months later."
In the meantime, administrators told students to think more about safety. Students on Sunday suggested locking outside dorm doors 24-hours-a-day, a move that would be decided by the university's Housing Council.
Students were asked to follow basic safety guidelines, such as not letting in other students, using the university's escort service when returning late at night, watching what personal information they post on the Facebook.com social networking site and locking their doors.
"Those are basic life skills you should practice no matter where you are," Public Safety Director Cindy Hall said.

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