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Orientation

By Kathy Y. Wilson · August 21st, 2013 · Kathy Y. Wilson
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Q: Do you see what I see?

A: Four-thousand-five-hundred University of Cincinnati freshmen trampling — naive, anxious, scared, iPod earplugs firmly in place — across campus Aug. 26.

They have begged for, saved, borrowed and worked for money, bought books, secured housing or maybe they’re still living at home. 

Some will try fitting in like high school all over again and join frats and sororities; some will bask in the favoritism of being on athletic scholarships; some will barely squeak by.

Either way, they think they’re prepared.

Meanwhile, in preparation for their arrival and ensuing partying and neighborhood discovery, Clifton-area thugs are hovering and waiting for them to emerge from bars and restaurants, hookah joints and coffeeshops, their cars and their apartments hoping they’re distracted by their own drunkenness, the comforting smartphone blue glow of their tweets and texts, their iUniverse.

In a story-within-a-story filo dough layering of complicated college crap, the university is slightly unsettled.

The students may be as ready as they can be, but is UC?

The University of Cincinnati police department is now headed by Interim Chief Jeff Corcoran after the hasty split in late July of former Chief and Director of Public Safety Michael Cureton, who initially and casually said he had “health concerns” to tend to while rumors of “low morale” swirled throughout the department. 

Cureton’s resignation isn’t effective until February, so he’s still collecting on his $125,000 annual salary and he will get the $3,125 bonus promised him.

He just can’t come to the office, use his UC email or appear in public as a campus representative.

He might be getting paid to golf, watch The View and Judge Judy.

It’s been reported Cureton’s brief two-year stint was plagued by officers’ grievances against him and bright-light safety problems, namely the August 2011 taser death of Everette Howard by a UC police officer.

Robert Ambach, UC’s senior vice president of administration and finance, is now interim public safety director.

Really? A money guy in charge of public safety?

Maybe he can tell us how much those Segways cost, how much it costs to train officers to ride those Segways safely through hallways or how much it costs to train an officer to yell at drivers through a bullhorn while sitting in an air-conditioned SUV, engine running, as drivers approach the College-Conservatory of Music circular drive.

This is but a fraction of tuition dollars at work.

Are you, like me, now wondering if UC has turned into the Bermuda Triangle of high-ranking administrators? 

Where do they go when they quietly slink away? 

Are they all in an invisible, dark-paneled room drinking scotch and smoking cigars?

I’m still waiting for the full story on former President Greg Williams — president less than three years — and his $1.3 million severance package.

What happened there?

Maybe the dismissed can all breathe collective sighs of relief now that they’re gone because no one can seem to stem the tide of assaults and robberies seemingly perpetrated solely against UC students.

Corcoran now has the unenviable job of sending out the endless email notifications of crime plaguing what the UC Police force calls “the Clifton community.” 

The night of Aug.

15, a 19-year-old man was leaving the Bohemian Hookah Cafe on Ludlow Avenue when three black men, aged 16 to 19, robbed the victim at gunpoint, taking his cell phone and money after one of them punched the man.

The next night, two “young-looking” black men carjacked a victim at gunpoint on Glendora Avenue.

The ironies here abound.

The thugs are always described by color; the victims never are.

This is an important factoid to note because UC is in close proximity to Hughes High School, which is predominantly black. 

It borders Clifton, Corryville, University Heights and, to some degree, Cumminsville, and some of these neighborhoods are teeming with working-class blacks and whites; yet, of UC’s 41,970 full- and part-time students enrolled in 2012-2013, 8.2 percent are black.

I’m not implying Hughes students are committing the crimes; I’m implying UC isn’t doing enough to attract the closest people of color to its campus.

So, black men are roaming the nearby streets looking for crimes of opportunity when, with just a few more steps, they could be roaming the campus itself, if only to imagine their lives filled in with education and not other people’s cellphones.

And this stopgap is just as much UC’s fault as it is the thugs’ and their parents’.

Sometimes I think universities in this country are so besotted by their research grants — no! their athletic departments — the unspoken publish-or-perish edicts keeping professors on treadmills until tenure and the shell-game nature of moving administrators around and, god forbid, settling wrongful death lawsuits that university presidents, faculty and staff forget about education.

We are supposed to be luring and enticing young people toward the light of higher education and giving them alternate choices, not merely herding them through like branded cattle checking first to make sure their checks clear.

Sadder still, in the herd there are so many students who come to college who’ve absolutely no business there; they’re no more prepared for the intellectual rigor, the dicey social matrix and the expectation of talent in their respective disciplines than an average junior high school student, and no one’s had that come-to-Jesus conversation with them until maybe well into their third year.

College won’t be for each and every one of the 4,500 incoming UC freshmen, some of whom are coming merely out of pressure to be the first in their families to even go to college.

While that makes for typical Oprah Winfrey Network fodder, it isn’t a viable enough reason to usurp financial resources and the energies of teachers and advisers.

In my f’d up math, the more who come, the more the thugs have to choose from, not that they wouldn’t be robbing and stealing from a smaller number, anyway.



CONTACT KATHY Y. WILSON: letters@citybeat.com



 
 
 
 

 

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