Posts Tagged ‘Mount Pleasant’

College Newspaper Labels McCain “Viagra’s Next Spokesman”

November 6, 2008

In an effort to raise awareness ofthis issue, this blog post has also been posted on RightMichigan.com and OutsideLansing.com

Well, my school’s news paper, the Central Michigan Life (Central Michigan University) has sunk to a new low.  In a video article titled “Voters discuss their picks for president,” (the video has since been taken down, but there are still comments at the bottom of the page) they have students saying who they voted for and used that candidate’s logo as the image.  The problem came when Adam Kaminski, the video’s creator, used a logo which read, “Make Me Viagra’s Next Spokesman” on Senator McCain’s logo.

The above video is owned by the Central Michigan Life and has been posted under the Fair Use Clause of the Copyright Act of 1976.

Now, had this have been a joke, I would have no problem with it.  But when it is presented as a serious news story, I find this appalling.  If the video would’ve included, “Allah’s Next Great Prophet” for Senator Obama, I guarantee that people would be outraged.  And they should be!

This case is just a continuing pattern of terrible journalism by the CM-Life.  Let’s ignore the blatant spelling and grammar errors that a spread throughout most every issue, and look at some other cases of poor journalism:

Political columnist hack David Peterson’s article about Proposal 2, the proposal that legalized embryonic stem cell research, where he merely stated that it legalized stem cell research.  There’s a huge difference between legalizing stem cell research (which are already legal) and specifically embryonic stem cell research (which was illegal, up until the passage of the Proposal).

Here’s what Peterson wrote: “I’m sure everyone in the state of Michigan has seen the ads concerning roposal 2, the decision to allow stem cell research within the state of Michigan for the purposes of discovering cures for various diseases, disorders and organ replacement procedures…”

And how many times does he mention the word embryo (or any variation of the word)?  Once.  In the middle of the article.

I wrote the following letter to the editor, in addition to several requests for a printed correction (a request which was never honored):

First, you have a general lack of understanding of Proposal 2. Proposal 2 does not “allow stem cell research within the state of Michigan.” Stem cell research is already allowed. Proposal 2 will allow embryonic stem cell research. That’s a pretty important fact that you managed to leave out. This has been a common “error” that proponents of proposal 2 make. Just because a person opposes embryonic stem cell research does not mean that they oppose stem cell research overall.

I think the students of CMU deserve columnists with better knowledge of the issues than this.

These 2 cases show that the CM-Life is lacking in journalism ethics.  And apparently it’s lacking in editors, and I’m not just talking about editors who should’ve noticed these “mistakes.”  I’m talking about editors who should catch typos like “non threatening life injury” instead of “non life threatening injury,” or the various typos that plague almost every issue of the newspaper.

I hope the editors will honor my request for a correction this time, and if not, I will have lost all respect for the newspaper.  Even my liberal roommate (the other one, not the one that I normally talk about on here) agrees that this went way too far.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Get Out and Vote Today (and Volunteer)!

November 4, 2008

Hey everybody – I just wanted to make sure you remember to get out and vote today.  I also want to make one final plea to voters (especially Michiganders): don’t vote straight ticket.  That is an uneducated vote.  Go out and research ALL of the candidates, and vote for the best one.

Also, to you conservative Michiganders: go out and  volunteer today.  People like Representatives Tim Walberg (MI-7) and Joe Knollenberg (MI-9) need your help.  So help them out – even if it’s only for an hour or 2.  And if you’re up near Mount Pleasant, go help out the Isabella County Republicans – they need it too.  We can’t let people like County Clerk Joyce Swan or Register of Deeds Sharon Brown lose, so please, go help them out if you can.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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A Plea to All Michigan Voters (And Any Other Voters, Really)

October 7, 2008

Folks, I’m going to be straight with you here.  I think we all know that it’s going to take a miracle for McCain to win Michigan (I won’t say it’s impossible – I’ve learned my lesson once before).

And I’m still hearing McCain and Republican Party people saying, “We can win Michigan!”  Well, true, we can, but I don’t think we will (I will say that things could change after tonight’s debate – tonight’s debate will be McCain’s best debate).

First, my appeal to Obama supporters (especially those of you who have registered at your college – I know up here at Central Michigan University, around 5,000 students have registered to vote putting their permanent address as Mount Pleasant): Don’t just vote straight party ticket.  I don’t do this, and I’m a hard core Republican.  Either 1) Don’t vote for the races that you don’t know anything about (county races) or 2) Do some research and vote for the best candidate.

I’m not trying to keep you from voting for Obama – I realize that you’ll vote for him.  I don’t like it, but I’ve accepted it.  But people like the Register of Deeds, Sharon Brown, and the County Clerk, Joyce Swan, who have been in office for years, and have perfected the jobs that they do.  Having a bunch of college students (most of whom will leave the county in 4-6 years) elect 2 people who have no clue what they’re doing over 2 competent public servants is WRONG!  But do you know why it might happen?  Because Students for Obama and the College Democrats here at CMU are telling people to vote straight party ticket Democrat.  Now, I’ve gone up and asked the Students for Obama President, Matt Sous, if he’s doing this and he’s told me no.  But I’ve heard him encourage students to vote straight party ticket while he’s getting people registered to vote.  So again, I implore students (all over the state): look into these local races.  Don’t vote straight party ticket (don’t even do it if you’re going to vote for all Democrats – just vote for them individually).

Now, to my Republican friends: I’ve heard people now saying, “Now that McCain’s out, I don’t need to vote.”  HOLD IT!  There’s still races for the House of Representatives, as well as State Senate and House.  There’s races in the counties and in the cities (but like I said before, don’t vote stupid – don’t just vote party – vote candidate).

People like Representative Joe Knollenberg (9th District) still need your votes.  These are still close races.  Go out there and vote for McCain/Palin, even IF we’re going to lose (and again, we may not).  Go out there and VOTE on these other issues.  We also have 2 very important ballot issues.  Don’t give up your right to vote, the right that our troops have died for just because you think that the Presidential candidate that you support might lose!

This election is far from over.  Tonight’s debate (which I will live blog) will probably go well for McCain (he does well in town hall settings), and he could rebound.  Who knows.  I don’t think he’ll win Michigan, but stranger things have happened.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Noose Student at Central Michigan University Will Not Be Charged With Ethnic Intimidation

July 30, 2008

This is breaking news - I just heard about it from the CM-Life.

Isabella County Prosecutor Larry Burdick has said that he will not be pressing charges against the 28-year-old male engineering student who hung a noose in the Industrial Educational Technology Building back in November.  (My previous posts on this subject can be found here, here, here, here, and here).

Burdick released a press release, saying, “I am confident of the work performed by the CMU police, in conjunction with the FBI.  The facts determined due to the joint investigation does not support a charge of ethnic intimidation, and the intent needed for that crime cannot be proven.”  And that’s basically what I said in my retraction to my original statementssaying that he should be charged.  The fact is, even IF he did it in an intimidating way, without a verification for that, Burdick can’t win the case, and if he tried, he’d be a bad prosecutor, in my opinion.

Burdick goes on to say, “The student’s e-mail to the campus newspaper was, in my opinion, both insensitive and demonstrative of a complete lack of knowledge and understanding about the historical significance of the hanging of nooses.  His explanation, however, as to the reason he constructed and hung four nooses last November was corroborated by two of his classmates, which I found to be very credible and forthright concerning the incident.”

Again – that shows that although the student made a very poor/stupid decision, it wasn’t intended to be a threat of force (and even if the student is lying, 2 witnesses would be hard for Burdick to argue against).

Burdick continues, “Because intent lies at the heart of the charge that was under consideration, both we and the FBI felt it important to fully and carefully examine the individual’s personal computer to see if there was anything to suggest his actions were racially motivated. … What happened on campus should not just serve as a badly needed educational experience for one college student, but enlighten all of us as to the detrimental effect of this symbol.”

Again – this was a good call by Burdick.

But now that Burdick has said all of this, this means that CMU cannot release the student’s name (under FERPA, only a person who commits a violent or sexual crime can have his/her name released).  As I said before, if Burdick doesn’t prosecute, as he now has decided not to, I’d wonder what rule CMU used to suspend the student.  The fact that no crime was committed gives the student a possible case against the university to overturn his suspension.  I really can’t give my opinion on this, since I don’t know what the university charged him with.

I would like to take this opportunity to invite the student to do an interview with me.  I have a few questions, some about the incident, but mostly about the aftermath and what will happen here.  So, to the student who hung the noose, if you’re out there reading this, and wouldn’t mind answering a few questions, e-mail me at n.d.inks@gmail.com.

I’ll keep you all updated as this story keeps on developing.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Central Michigan Officials Unable to Confirm/Deny Penalty for Noose Student

March 27, 2008

OK, so the Central Michigan Life did a story in response to my recent blog post and I just wanted to keep you updated on the situation.

The CM-Life asked for a statement from the university concerning the leak, and Tony Voisin, Director of Student Life, said, “It would be a problem for that person to be leaking information to the media.”

The CM-Life also talked to Isabella County Prosecutor Larry Burdick who told the Life that the forensic results of some of the evidence have not yet been returned to him, saying, “I realize it is a source of frustration.  It is for me, too.”

A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) submitted to CMU was denied because the investigation is still ongoing (and I will agree that they probably shouldn’t release anything in an ongoing investigation, although I haven’t found anything in Michigan law that indicates that a crime was committed).

To back up my previous statements that I don’t think that a crime was committed, a comment was left linking to a Connecticut Post article that discusses a law that is currently being proposed in Connecticut that would make hanging nooses a hate crime.  Michigan has hate crime laws similar to Connecticut, which would imply that as of now, hanging nooses is not illegal (not that it’s right – I think it’s terrible, but it’s free speech as long as you aren’t threatening anybody specifically).

I’ll keep you updated as any information comes in, but right now it looks like we’re just waiting for Larry Burdick to reach his decision on whether or not to prosecute.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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Leaked Info: Noose Student at Central Michigan Suspended

March 21, 2008

I received the following information from a source familiar with the circumstances of the hearing and the general hearing process (read here for my previous post on this: http://inkslwc.wordpress.com/2008/03/17/what-ever-happened-to-the-noose-student-at-cmu/):

CMU has kicked the student out until Aug. 1, 2008. The student (a white male senior … not a black guy trying to generate sympathy for “his cause,” as some have suggested)), will take incompletes on his course work and finish them after Aug. 1. He’ll then be allowed to graduate.

At an earlier student disciplinary hearing, the panel wanted to kick him out of school permanently. He appealed that decision, and the appeals panel reduced the penalty.

As you know, the county prosecutor is still weighing whether to bring criminal charges against him. I can’t imagine that he will. Michigan’s ethnic intimidation statute requires that an act be directed at an individual, and, as far as I can see, there was no such thing here. And – unless that intimidation factor is present — it’s not a crime to be a racist or to express racist thoughts.

This really did surprise me. As I indicated in the previous post, it is VERY unlikely that he broke any laws (although what he did was in my eyes wrong – if it wasn’t racist, it was poor judgment in the least, and if it was racist, it’s morally wrong, but legally there’s nothing wrong with being racist).

It wasn’t directed against anybody, and as I pointed out, without a direction of the threat, you can’t prove that there was a threat of FORCE.  For instance, (and this simplifies the situation by taking out the implications of nooses in our society), leaving a baseball bat on a desk isn’t a crime, but going into an NAACP event and yelling racist phrases is a hate crime (I know hate crime isn’t a legal term, but it’s easier than saying U.S. Federal Code, Title …).

So, if this information is true, as I expect it is, I am disappointed in CMU’s decision.  Even further, I’d like to know what they charged him with, because as I said before, if it was a violent crime (which involves even the threat of violence) that they charged him with, they CAN release the information, as is stated in the Family Education Righs and Privacy Act (FERPA), and I may FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) for it (or if someone a little more legally knowledgeable would like to volunteer, it’d be greatly appreciated).

If Isabella County Prosecutor Larry Burdick doesn’t charge him (which I doubt he will if they’ve waited this long), I think that the student should bring this to court.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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What Ever Happened to the “Noose Student” at CMU?

March 17, 2008

OK, so the recent controversy with Dennis Lennox has made me wonder, what about the student who hung the nooses?

First, I owe the student somewhat of an apology.  I got caught up in my “A good prosecutor could win that case” syndrome and misinterpreted the law too far.  I claimed that U.S. Federal Code Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 13, § 245 could be interpreted to mean that he should be charged with a hate crime being “something intimidating that interferes with attending a public college, therefore making it a hate crime and thus illegal.”  I was interpreting Clause (b) which states “Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, by force or threat of force willfully injures, intimidates or interferes with, or attempts to injure, intimidate or interfere with…”

And here’s where I messed up – I did not look up any case law for “force.”  Hanging a noose is not a threat of force.  Is it intimidating?  Yes.  Is it a threat of force?  No.  Also, it was not directed at any particular group of people.  Sure it’s pretty much common knowledge that nooses are a symbol of lynching and racism against African Americans, but you can’t use an assumption as a prosecutor.

The point is, there’s too much “reasonable doubt” that a “good prosecutor” would know that he’d be playing on the emotions of any jury in trying to convict this student.

But wait, there’s more…

According to a CM-Life article, “Because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act [FERPA], university officials cannot release student records, which include disciplinary matters.  Information about the case – including the student’s name – might only be released if Isabella County Prosecutor Larry Burdick decides there is enough evidence to press charges.”

Here’s an excerpt from FERPA (Title 20, Chapter 31, Subchapter III, Part 4, § 1232g (b) (6)):

(B)Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit an institution of postsecondary education from disclosing the final results of any disciplinary proceeding conducted by such institution against a student who is an alleged perpetrator of any crime of violence (as that term is defined in section 16 of title 18), or a nonforcible sex offense, if the institution determines as a result of that disciplinary proceeding that the student committed a violation of the institution’s rules or policies with respect to such crime or offense.
(C) For the purpose of this paragraph, the final results of any disciplinary proceeding—
  (i) shall include only the name of the student, the violation committed, and any sanction imposed by the institution on that student; and
  (ii) may include the name of any other student, such as a victim or witness, only with the written consent of that other student.

And here’s the definition of “crime of violence (as that term is defined in section 16 of title 18)”:

The term “crime of violence” means—
(a) an offense that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or prop­erty of another, or
(b) any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.

So, then if a hate crime was committed (that would mean that my current interpretation of the U.S. Code that discusses hate crimes would be incorrect, and my original interpretation would be correct), then the university would be allowed to release the information.

Dawn Hertz, general counsel for the Michigan Press Association said, “There is someone in Washington [D.C.] who would threaten their federal funding if they released their name.  The university really has to be extremely careful.”

Tony Voisin, director of Student Life, said explained the disciplinary process by saying that anybody who violates the Student Code of Conduct must meet with a Conduct Proceedings Officer, after which, the officers decides if enough evidence exists to discipline the student.  He then went on to explain that hearings only take place when students do not admit guilt, saying, “To date, we’ve had about 10 hearings.  Over the course of the year, we may have 700-plus violations, and only 20 are tried.  We can’t share even the fact that there is a hearing.  The university can’t share those results with anybody other than the student involved.  It’s the business of the student involved and nobody else.”

Dean of Students, Bruce Roscoe told the CM-Life that even releasing the student’s punishment could be a violation of FERPA.

But we just read in FERPA that it’s acceptable to release the students name and punishment if the crime was violent.  The only crime that hanging a noose could be is a hate crime (I know hate crime isn’t a technical term, but it’s quicker than saying the crime established in U.S. Federal Code…).  So, if the student WAS found guilty, then logically, the hearing results could be released.

So, in a normal situation, I would assume based on all of this that the student was found not guilty, and thus the results of the hearing could not be released; however, since I know the history of CMU (specifically the Student Life Department), I’m not going to assume anything.

If anybody does have any information about the case, please let me know.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Central Michigan University Violated State Law in Dennis Lennox’s Hearing

March 8, 2008

For the background on this particular case, see my post here http://inkslwc.wordpress.com/2008/02/29/central-michigan-postpones-dennis-lennoxs-disciplinary-hearing-yet-again/.  After that hearing, Lennox accused the University of violating the Open Meetings Act (OMA), Act 267 of 1976 (Michigan Compiled Laws [MCL], Chapter 15), specifically Section 15.268:

Sec. 8.

A public body may meet in a closed session only for the following purposes:

(b) To consider the dismissal, suspension, or disciplining of a student if the public body is part of the school district, intermediate school district, or institution of higher education that the student is attending, and if the student or the student’s parent or guardian requests a closed hearing.

Now, at first I was skeptical of what Lennox was saying.  I mean, sure the Open Meetings Act would apply to most meetings, but I didn’t actually think that disciplinary hearings of students would be open to the public.  So I poured over the OMA and found that what Lennox had said was true.  So then I thought, what about the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (U.S. Code, Title 20, Chapter 31, Subchapter III, Part 4, § 1232g).  Surely that must be the reason that the University is having closed meetings (the federal law would trump OMA).  So I poured over FERPA and found this:

(h) Disciplinary records; disclosure

Nothing in this section shall prohibit an educational agency or institution from—
(1) including appropriate information in the education record of any student concerning disciplinary action taken against such student for conduct that posed a significant risk to the safety or well-being of that student, other students, or other members of the school community; or
(2) disclosing such information to teachers and school officials, including teachers and school officials in other schools, who have legitimate educational interests in the behavior of the student.

Now, there are a couple of other references to disciplinary hearings, but none that indicate that a hearing that is the result of a non-dangerous offense can’t be released, just that the results of a hearing because of violence or a nonforcible sex offense are excluded from being withheld.  So, it can’t be federal law that they’re using as the excuse.

Also, why would the Michigan Legislature pass a law in 1976 that directly contradicted a U.S. Law passed in 1974 (I like to think that our politicians are decently smart, even if we have people like Jennifer Granholm and Al Frankenstein out there).

Furthermore, even IF holding an open hearing violated FERPA, it wouldn’t be illegal – it would just keep CMU from getting federal money.  Holding a closed meeting without consent though, directly defies state law.  But again, I don’t think that the OMA and FERPA contradict each other. 

So, after pouring over these laws, I’ve come to the conclusion that Lennox is right (and I should point out – it’s not that I don’t trust Lennox, but the legal system is complicated, and I always scrutinize laws for myself).

But that’s not all I found.  I also found a fun little section in OMA.  Here’s Section 15.269:

15.269 Minutes.

Sec. 9.

(1) Each public body shall keep minutes of each meeting showing the date, time, place, members present, members absent, any decisions made at a meeting open to the public, and the purpose or purposes for which a closed session is held. The minutes shall include all roll call votes taken at the meeting. The public body shall make any corrections in the minutes at the next meeting after the meeting to which the minutes refer. The public body shall make corrected minutes available at or before the next subsequent meeting after correction. The corrected minutes shall show both the original entry and the correction.

(2) Minutes are public records open to public inspection, and a public body shall make the minutes available at the address designated on posted public notices pursuant to section 4. The public body shall make copies of the minutes available to the public at the reasonable estimated cost for printing and copying.

(3) A public body shall make proposed minutes available for public inspection within 8 business days after the meeting to which the minutes refer. The public body shall make approved minutes available for public inspection within 5 business days after the meeting at which the minutes are approved by the public body.

(4) A public body shall not include in or with its minutes any personally identifiable information that, if released, would prevent the public body from complying with section 444 of subpart 4 of part C of the general education provisions act, 20 USC 1232g, commonly referred to as the family educational rights and privacy act of 1974.

And where are these minutes? 

So it is my opinion that CMU is in direct violation of state law.  They’ve already been found to have lied about things in their code of conduct (that a policy on students videotaping their own hearings was in there – it’s NOT!), and now it appears that they’ve violated state law.

Why do they have to keep opposing Lennox on this?  Just admit that you were wrong and move on before you find yourself at the paying end of a lawsuit!

Also, if I were Gary Peters, I’d resign at this point – all of this could really come back to haunt him come election time.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Hearing Held for Dennis Lennox; He Was Issued a Reprimand by CMU

March 6, 2008

Alright, well we’re almost to the end of an era.  The fight between Dennis Lennox II and Central Michigan University over Gary Peters is almost over.

Over spring break, CMU held a closed-door hearing to determine Lennox’s fate.  (The previous hearing had been cancelled because Lennox refused to turn off his video camera, because he claimed that it was his first amendment right to videotape his own hearing [and I agree]: http://inkslwc.wordpress.com/2008/02/29/central-michigan-postpones-dennis-lennoxs-disciplinary-hearing-yet-again/).

So, the conduct proceedings officer (maybe Asst. Dean of Students Tony Voisin again?) ruled that Lennox was guilty of the 3 things he was accused of: 1) providing false information to a university official, 2) identifying himself as Dick Cheney to a professor, and 3) improperly posting fliers, by putting them on benches in the hallways.  Lennox was then issued a letter of reprimand.

Lennox has since stated that he will appeal the finding that he violated the school’s code of conduct.

Steve Smith, CMU’s media representative, in response to questions about Lennox saying that he could have been expelled, responded that he cannot comment on Lennox’s case specifically, due to privacy laws, but that the purpose of the code of conduct is to “[educate students] with punishment and sanctions as a secondary measure.”

So, we’ll see what happens if Lennox appeals – but I think that this case is pretty much done now.

Although it’s not ideal, I think that Dennis’s “punishment” is as close to ideal as he’s going to get – so I would personally just leave it alone, but the appeals process is there for a reason. 

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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Central Michigan University Postpones Dennis Lennox’s Disciplinary Hearing Yet Again

February 29, 2008

On Wednesday, Dennis Lennox II met with Tony (Anthony) Voisin, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Life, and another unidentified man for his disciplinary hearing (as well as an undercover policeman who was also present, but not in the hearing room) (see here: http://inkslwc.wordpress.com/2008/01/25/central-michigan-to-hold-expulsion-hearing-for-dennis-lennox/ for an explanation about this hearing, or visit the category for Dennis Lennox here: http://inkslwc.wordpress.com/category/dennis-lennox/).

Here’s a video of the local news story:

Alright, now, since I was here (although not in the room – I was going to videotape, but I believe that a local reporter attempted to hold the video recorder for him.

Here’s what happened: Dennis went in with an adviser, Voisin told him he couldn’t videotape it, so the hearing was cancelled and will resume at another time.  CMU Media spokesman Steve Smith then took questions from the media.

He told us (over the course of several interviews where I just observed, I didnt’ ask him questions directly).  He had to speak generically, due to privacy laws, so all of these questions are hypothetical, and are not aimed specifically at Lennox’s case, although they are applicable (it’s essentially the way that they can hold a press conference without getting sued by some politically correct idiot):

  • The hearing “would continue at a later date [and] could continue without the student.”
  • The hearing  would “Not [be] open to [the] public or media.”
  • “Expulsion is only handed down in extreme cases.”  He said that the word expulsion has only come when Lennox has spoken, indicating that the punishment may not be incredibly severe.
  • When asked about the policy on letting students tape disciplinary hearings, he referred us to the Student Code of Conduct which he claimed was very clear on the matter.  The problem is, I’ve poured over the code and neither I, nor the local news (as you saw in the YouTube clip) found anything about allowing or banning students from taping their own hearings.

Lennox then answered some questions, the main question being, what will you do at the next hearing?  He answered, I “plan on taping everything I can.”

Personally, I think that CMU is just going to let this go – Smith/CMU looked VERY bad in the media by saying “Check the code of conduct” and then the news reporting that there’s nothing in the code about this.  Personally, I think they needed to hold a much better press conference, because by keeping silent, they just make themselves look bad.

I really don’t think they’ll be successful if they try to keep this up – either they’ll have to let him tape it, or they’re going to have a lot of angry people on their hands.

Also, some accused the university of trying to let this hearing slip through the media cracks, since spring break is this upcoming week, and the CM-Life will not publish until after spring break (their last paper came out Wednesday morning before the hearing).

I’ll keep you all updated if we hear any more developments.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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