The following reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
Last Thursday, The Miami Student broke the story detailing how former Miami University first-year Nicholas Shaw was expelled for sexual assault by his former university, Indiana University - Purdue University Indiana (IUPUI). Shaw later plead guilty to criminal confinement in an Indiana court and served six days in jail in relation to the sexual assault.
Kaite Anderson, the woman Shaw assaulted, resorted to posting this information in the Miami University Class of 2023-Parents Facebook group last week, which is where we first learned about Shaw.
Anderson reached out to Miami University’s Office of Admission about Shaw back in early September. She also reached out to The Student around the same time, but we missed the tip. We sincerely regret not being able to hold Shaw accountable and to share Anderson’s story sooner.
But the day after we did share the story, Shaw was no longer a student at Miami.
Miami’s administration has yet to publicly comment on the fact that a convicted criminal was an enrolled student on this campus, claiming that their hands are tied by the Federal Education and Rights Privacy Act (FERPA).
We at The Student believe the administration’s refusal to comment at all is an example of Miami’s ‘sweep it under the rug’ mentality. We’re disappointed (and unsurprised) to see our university leaders choose silence over an explanation that would conform to the privacy constrictions FERPA requires, while also providing context to the Miami community.
Shaw’s situation left the student body, and our reporters, with so many unanswered questions:
How could the admissions office miss the fact that Shaw had a criminal record?
Why did it take so long for him to leave?
How will the university ensure that something like this won’t ever happen again?
Shaw came in as a first-year student despite being 20-years-old. This means that he either lied on his application about why he left IUPUI, he lied about what he’s been up to since graduating high school, or he told Miami he was expelled. Either way, there are holes in this story and the admissions office should have been the ones to see right through them.
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While FERPA limits how specific Miami can be, the university can and absolutely should be more forthcoming about how cases like Shaw’s play out generally in our university’s admissions and disciplinary processes.
FERPA doesn’t mean the university can’t acknowledge that this happened. It doesn’t make it impossible for Miami to apologize to the student body. It doesn’t make it illegal to offer widespread support to students who feel traumatized by this event.
The Student’s editor-in-chief Samantha Brunn and managing editor Ceili Doyle sat down with Miami’s Dean of Students Kimberly Moore in hopes of gaining some clarity on how the university handles situations like Shaw’s — detailed in a follow-up news story this week.
We were grateful for the context Moore was able to provide. It gave our staff some peace of mind to know how Miami is supposed to react in situations like this. But it’s incredibly disheartening that this information was not readily offered to students when the news about Shaw was made public.
Our reporting cannot be the only way in which this university is held accountable.
Maybe we feel so disenchanted with the whole university system because we report on it every day. But it’s easy to look around this campus and see all of the cracks in the facade that are just glossed over with a breezy “From Now On” or a photo op with The First Dog, Ivy.
Loving and honoring one another starts with being honest about our failings, honest about what needs to be done and honest about what we want to see reflected on this campus. It can’t ever be carried out over phone calls filled with “no comments” and silence.
Anderson demonstrated bravery and genuine concern for Miami’s students, and she’s not even a student here. The absolute least Miami could do is acknowledge how badly they failed our community by admitting this person to campus and by failing to contextualize how a mistake like this could have been made.
It’s time Miami be brave and confront the lack of transparency on this campus.
Remaining silent does not mean that the issue disappears.
In fact, that silence only breeds confusion. If Miami shared as much information as FERPA allows, it would offer comfort to students, parents and community members. Not providing that is an abject failure on the part of the administration.
President Crawford needs to publicly acknowledge and apologize for what happened on this campus. The administration and admissions office should apologize for the clear systems failure that allowed Shaw to be an admitted student.
We want Miami to stop using FERPA as an excuse. We want transparency. We want and we deserve so much more.