Par for the course.

Nice Jesuit school too. They must be in contention with Baylor for Most Hypocritical Religious Institution in the Land.

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7 Responses to ““While awaiting his rape trial, a [Loyola University student] played 3 years of college golf. Now, Ben Holm is headed to prison.””

  1. Dennis Says:

    Isn’t this type of case more complicated than your snarky comment suggests?

    The article you link to indicates that he was charged for an offense before he went to Loyola, that he pled not guilty, and that the school didn’t learn of the charge until he changed his plea this month. You mock the university and accuse it of hypocrisy. On what basis? If the university wasn’t aware of the charge, how could its tolerance of his presence be hypocritical? Do you have some information that the Post reporter did not?

    More importantly, even if a university were aware of a charge like this earlier in the process, it would face a difficult dilemma. Would you have every school deny admission to anyone accused but not convicted of a serious offense? Conduct its own investigation and reach its own conclusion before the police and judicial system? Treat every accusation as proof of guilt? Publicly announce the accusation to the university community even though it may prove to be unfounded? Brand him with the letter R to protect its other students? Force him to go through the usual university kangaroo court proceeding over a charge of conduct before he arrived?

    I understand (and usually share) your desire to call out universities who tolerate criminals and other miscreants, but this time you’re too flip. How about offering instead some serious thoughts about how universities should handle allegations against its students?

  2. Dennis Says:

    “against THEIR students.”

  3. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Dennis: I take your point. As I read the coverage of the story, Loyola in fact stayed silent for some time after media inquiries were directed to the school. It was rather lazy about making an announcement, and in fact what it has said so far is – to use the word its students are using – pretty “generic.” The athletic department is still refusing to say how he was chosen for a senior-year scholarship, and why he left the team/school (if they don’t know why, they should say that). This is not exactly the sort of thing about which a university wants to be sluggish and evasive – it makes people think that perhaps someone there knew more than the officials are saying.

    As to what universities should do when they become aware that a very serious charge is pending against someone – and in particular a charge with bad implications for the safety of their students – I think they should suspend (or delay the admission of) the student until the matter is resolved.

    And as to what would have made their statement less generic – it should have announced (or reiterated) its precise policies in regard to students with charges pending against them. It should have encouraged students to be honest with the school about any relevant legal issues they may be bringing to school with them. And it should have encouraged students to speak up if they hear anything truly disturbing about a fellow student. I have trouble believing, for instance, that this guy was able to keep his trap entirely shut about this for three years. I also suspect he had to ask for a lot of time away from the team to deal with his case at home. Did no one on the team, no one managing the team, ever wonder about this? Googling the guy’s name would have been a first step.

  4. Dennis Says:

    That’s a very fair answer. Asking applicants about pending criminal charges might well be reasonable. I hope, though, that you’re not suggesting that colleges should google all applicants or current students. Do we really want colleges to do criminal investigations before admitting or retaining students? That’s not their role and they likely wouldn’t be very good at it.

    I’m more concerned about your recommendation of suspending or denying admission to everyone with a pending serious charge. Logically, wouldn’t that mean doing the same for anyone with an actual conviction? Either way, I’m sure you understand that the consequences would disproportionately affect minority students. Is that really a road you want to go down? At your university in Washington, DC?

    Finally, I’m troubled by your “hear something, say something” idea. Haven’t we had enough problems already with universities providing anonymous hotlines and the like for students to complain about their peers? We know that some students use those mechanisms for things that are part of life and should be dealt with privately (offensive comments, personal arguments, political disputes, etc.). Even those mechanisms can punish students for simply being normal, like the “bias response teams” and instantaneous charges of discrimination for saying something another doesn’t like. Encouraging students to pass on rumors about “anything truly disturbing”, which naturally will have to trigger formal investigations, would aggravate the existing problems. The procedure itself is often the punishment.

    Really, that vision of a university doesn’t look anything like the ideal of a liberal arts education that you and I share.

  5. Margaret Soltan Says:

    On also suspending students with an actual conviction – no. America would lose significant chunks of its corporate class (from which we choose almost all university trustees) if people who have been convicted and paid their monetary fines or imprisonment time were taken out of service. Michael Milken’s name is emblazoned on my university’s school of public health, and assuming he keeps his nose clean I don’t have a problem with it.

  6. Dennis Says:

    Not to belabor the point, but your usual solid logic seems a bit shaky here. If I understand you correctly, the university shouldn’t suspend Ben Holm if he has an “actual conviction” for the crime (per your last message), but (per your original post) allowing him to remain a student when he was only charged with a crime and still denied it would make Loyola the “Most Hypocritical Religious Institution in the Land” (possibly barring Baylor). That’s really your position?

  7. Margaret Soltan Says:

    If Ben Holm has been convicted and served his time, he needs to disclose that on his college applications (I’m aware there’s reasonable disagreement about felony disclosure; I support it). Since he is compelled, probably, by the school’s application process to disclose, the question of suspension shouldn’t come up because the school is already aware of his criminal history. My point about prior convictions is that they are more likely to be disclosed up front and therefore the school can make its own call (reject/accept) based on disclosure/public information.

    While his trial is ongoing he should be suspended because he’s either guilty or innocent, and if he’s innocent he should be allowed to return, but if he’s guilty he should be off campus in order not to pose a threat. This leaves open the question of how a university finds out a student is on trial for a serious offense. I’m giving Loyola a hard time not for having failed to discover this information, but for apparently bungling its response to the information and therefore running the risk of looking like I-could-care-less Baylor.

    Disclosure on the application is crucial, since a university can judge for itself whether it wants to take a risk on an applicant. If a very destructive felon like Michael Milken can serve his time and be rehabilitated, others can too.

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