Schools are state property

Feb 092004
Authors: Stacey Schneider

Pick up a copy of the newspaper and you cannot escape the

country’s newest sex scandal involving the University of


I am not here today to discuss the guilt versus innocence of the

parties involved at CU, nor am I here to debate the ethics of

school athletic recruitment strategies. Rather, these accusations

have given rise to a new question pertinent to every public

university, in every state. What happens when improper activities

occur in a school?

Unfortunately, there is no school that is invincible to scandal

and impropriety. These activities can occur in any sector from

athletics to academics, and it does not stop short at sexual

allegations but rather includes the likes of cheating and fraud, to

name a few. The difference lies in how schools choose to handle

these misconducts. While many schools do take heed to problems, I

cannot believe that every problem is dealt with in a responsible


In order to level the playing field, there needs to be a

nationwide, or at the very least statewide strategy for keeping

universities responsible for any misconduct and keeping them

responsible at the exact same level.

Perhaps it is time for the government to take more action in the

area of higher education. Granted, these are institutions that are

paid for by the students attending them. However, the taxpayer

dollars are also going to the cause of education. Why shouldn’t the

government voice concern when the taxpayer dollars are being used

in an incorrect manner? The individual state governments need to

create boards to handle cases of impropriety in universities. A

regulation should be instituted requiring any allegations of

improper activity to become knowledge of the government in order

for further investigation.

Why should the government be allowed to create panels for

investigation? The answer is simple: to create an impartial group

in each individual situation. If a university is allowed to choose

its own independent investigation panel, there is already a bias on

the part of the school. But if the government is allowed to help

create these panels, there is a lesser chance that the members will

have a vested interest in the university. In order to create the

most unbiased group possible, the governor, the legislature and

even the university facing allegations would need to contribute to

group selection, rather than just the university itself. By

allowing the university to take part as well, it neutralizes any

impartiality on the part of the government.

Remember Enron? It also set up its own independent boards to

investigate impropriety. And how well did that work? The government

had to step in and investigate.

With these investigation panels also comes the possibility of

harsher punishments for universities that are found guilty of any

allegations. It seems easier to sweep any information that could

cause bad publicity under the rug than to handle it and face the

consequences. When schools face misconduct, especially in areas

like athletics that are huge moneymakers, it is understandable why

the school does not want the information out for common knowledge.

Though understandable, does that make it right? And even though

harsher penalties and bad publicity could arise from such

investigations, it might serve as a reminder and a warning to

future rabble-rousers and bring a little humility to the school at


In the case of the CU scandal, it was not out of line for

Governor Owens and the state government to step up to the plate and

demand answers from the school. It was also commendable for the

government to suggest an independent board for further

investigation into the subject. However, since the university and

its board of regents decided upon the panel, it will be interesting

to see what outcome arises from this situation. Do we have just

another Enron on our hands?

Until this scandal is settled, this case will not leave the

newspapers any time soon. And even when journalists’ hands get

tired of writing about it, another sex scandal will occur to take

the public’s attention.


Stacey is a senior marketing major. Her column runs every other


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