I would like to start off by saying that I have the utmost respect for President Donna E. Shalala, and I think she has done a great job at this university. However, I have a serious objection to the letter she wrote to the “university community” regarding the admittance of Willie Williams. Since she values student feedback so greatly, a simple e-mail would not suffice. I have instead decided to devote a column to express my feelings.
I am neither for nor against Williams being admitted. However, when President Shalala tries to tell the students and community that Williams was admitted for reasons other than athletics, she is feeding the student body a load of crap.
President Shalala severely underestimates the intelligence of her student body by expecting us to believe what she writes in this letter, that Williams was admitted because he is a qualified applicant off the field. I am not debating his academic record, but consider this: if the average student was arrested 11 times and had all the legal problems Williams has, even if he or she had great academic records, he or she would have zero chance of being admitted to this school. While this may not be an indisputable fact, it is as close as you can get to one.
When President Shalala says, “…laws that protect files of young people have resulted in inaccurate public reports – and sloppy conclusions by various so-called experts…” I can’t help but question this piece of information. It is a fact that Williams has been arrested multiple times, 11 to be exact. These are not “inaccurate public reports” as she claims. Things get worse when Williams’ youth becomes an excuse for his actions. Being young does not give you exemption from the law. Unless I missed something, Williams is no younger than the normal freshman. In our youth, we have all made foolish mistakes, but being arrested 11 times goes beyond a momentary lapse in judgment. It is downright ludicrous.
“In our youth, we have all made foolish mistakes, but being arrested 11 times goes beyond a momentary lapse in judgment. It is downright ludicrous.”
When Shalala says, “Mr. Williams is also one of us – a son of Miami. We have a special obligation, relationship, and commitment to the young people of our South Florida community,” I balk at this statement. If we have a special obligation to the young people of South Florida, then we should go to the local prison and admit the inmates.
The University of Miami has made great strides academically and Shalala has done an exceptional job as president. However, when she wrote this letter over the summer addressing the issue, she insulted the intelligence of every student at this university. She attempted to put a positive spin on a negative situation, but was ultimately unsuccessful.
In conclusion, President Shalala, next time, just tell the students the truth. Aren’t we all taught that the truth will set us free? Be honest with us, and give us the real reasons for the decisions you make. We are all adults and we understand how the world works. If we are taking an athlete for their abilities, trust your student body enough to understand that. Don’t try to fool us into accepting a university spin job. It won’t work, and it will simply cause people like me to write columns in The Hurricane about you.
Darren Grossman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.