Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t?

“Reputation is what people think of you. Character is who you really are.” The character of Morgan State University, seen through the eyes of the students is strong and tenacious.

“We, Morganites, make everything from nothing,” says Chinedu Nweze, founder of the X Assembly, an activist and humanitarian group on campus. “Put us anywhere in the world with little resources and the spirit of Morgan will cause us to create the most innovative things mankind has ever seen.”

However, Morgan’s reputation does not fare as well in the eyes of the public.

“Morgan is dangerous,” says Ajene’ Hall, senior at Bowie State University.

With reputation shaping the image of the university to many prospective students, protecting the namesake becomes increasingly important; But at what cost?

Recent negative events have raised questions about the information, or lack thereof, being disseminated to the public. Students on campus know about drug use, drug overdoses and the drug deal gone awry in the recent Student Center shooting. But each year, the university is required to submit a crime report to the federal government—and share that report with the community. This crime report was released last month and shows a minimal amount of crimes were being committed at Morgan.

The 2012 Morgan State University Campus Security and Fire Safety Report, or the Jeanne Clery Disclosure as it is known nationally suggests at first glance that MSU is one of the safest campuses in the country, but once the math is completed; the numbers seem not to add up.

In 2010, the Morgan administration reported 13 drug-related violations and arrests in the official Clery data and only two campus disciplinary referrals for the same offense. Executive Director of Campus and Public Safety Adrian Wiggins explained why that may be.

“Every drug arrest may not be referred to the campus judicial committee just like every referral may not require us to arrest and prosecute,” says Wiggins. “That’s just not how it works.”

But according to the university’s president, Dr. David Wilson, the process should work completely opposite of what the former chief of MSU police stated. The Drug and Alcohol policy released on the university website states: “A student who is determined to have violated the University’s Drug and Alcohol Policy, is subject to sanctions outlined in the University Code of Student Conduct & Disciplinary Procedures, which may include, but are not limited to suspension or expulsion from the University.”

Furthermore, Federal and Maryland State law as outlined in the same document from the president states:

“It is unlawful to possess a controlled dangerous substance, including marijuana, cocaine, LSD, PCP, heroin, designer drugs, etc. If the substance is cocaine, or contains a cocaine base, the penalty for simple possession is a fine and/or imprisonment from 5 to 20 years. For other illegal drugs, the penalty for simple possession is a fine of at least $1000.00 and/or imprisonment up to 3 years. The penalties increase if the possession includes intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense a controlled substance, especially if done near a public or private elementary, vocational, or secondary school or a public or private college or university. Additionally, any person who violates this law shall be liable for an amount up to $10,000.00 in civil penalties.”

If all students by university, federal and state law are subject to both sanctions and arrest for involvement with controlled dangerous substances, why would there be a difference in numbers?

On September 23, 2012 Darian Hicks a sophomore at MSU, died suddenly after consuming a controlled substance he had purchased on campus, according to sources who wanted to remain anonymous. According to the White House Drug Policy website, 83 percent of people arrested for drug related crimes repeat the same crime. What that means for the university is that people who are just receiving “slaps on the wrist” for possession and distribution are free to sell and use again, thus making it possible for situations like Hicks’ to occur more frequently.

Hicks case along with many others, are not included in the Clery report. According to the MSU police department, his body was found on the adjacent street behind Marble Hall Garden’s court six and seven, which is the designated residence for students. The report only requires Morgan to detail cases that happen on property which is owned or leased by the university, for the student body (i.e. all academic buildings, MorganView apartments, and only court six and seven of Marble Hall Garden). To put it in a clearer perspective, if an incident occurs on Hillen Road, across from the Jenkins Building, it will not be reported by MSU police because it did not occur on the premises of the university.

Wiggins posed a question during an interview on the matter wondering, “Why don’t more people speak up when they know someone that is dealing or using?”

If students who are found to be possessing or distributing drugs are not receiving full consequences and the university is not doing all that’s necessary to keep the public abreast of campus-related crime some students counter, what is the point of reporting information they have to the police?

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