One would think that the 2001-2002 school year was more eventful than previous ones.
Or maybe the Hurricane just reported it all this time.
Regardless, looking back there were a lot of watershed events that occurred and that the Hurricane staff covered this school year-from 9/11 and all of its fallout to the closing of the five-year-old school of International Studies to the two tragic student deaths.
President Donna E. Shalala probably had no idea what she was going to be in for.
In her first year, she was celebrated at her inauguration and yelled at on her birthday, she elected UM’s first African-American undergraduate dean and dealt with two sex scandal lawsuits against the university.
It was an eventful year.
The Miami Hurricane staff has compiled a list of all the top stories that hit UM this year .
FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
UM’s office of admission was so successful in their recruitment for fall 2001 that the freshman class this year was the largest ever. However, this record admission-46 percent of applicants-meant that some students were left without on campus housing. Displaced students-mostly returning students-were housed temporarily in the Holiday Inn, the Terrace Inn, Building 34, guest apartments, and residence hall study lounges. By Labor Day weekend all of the students in alternative housing were relocated into the residential colleges.
Terrorists crashed three planes into two of the buildings heralded as monuments to the American way of life. The world and all of its occupants changed that day.
UM students sat glued to their televisions, cell phones to their ears, as phone lines internationally were tied up and people tried desperately to make sure all their loved ones were still okay.
President Shalala, administration, and students alike sprung to action to preserve the safety and wellbeing that were lost that day. Shalala issued a statement asking students not to let these terrorist activities disrupt their lives; extra counseling services were set up for grieving students; and some put together a candlelight vigil for peace.
One of the results of 9/11 was the sudden and vengeful turn against Muslims and the Islamic faith. At UM, female Muslim students were harassed in the UC and blamed for the terrorist activities. The School of Engineering received threatening phone calls about their Muslim and Arab students and any student looking remotely Middle-Eastern or Indian had to deal with dirty looks and side-long glances.
Another scare hitting South Florida was anthrax. Just 60 miles away in Boca Raton, Fl., the first threat of bio-terrorism at the American Media, Inc. occurred on Oct. 5.
In late September, 2001, students associated with Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity allegedly asked residents of Hecht residential college an inappropriate question-“What are we going to do about these damned Arabs?”-and after that the Hurricane and AEPi became involved in an interesting chain of events that led to the suspension of two AEPi brothers and the probation of another. AEPi members failed to prevent news of their alleged indiscretion from being published in the Hurricane and then, 90 percent of those Oct. 5 issues of the newspaper were stolen from the news stands. Three days later, a representative from AEPi confessed to the theft and returned the missing papers to the office of the Dean of Students. The three students sanctioned for the theft were also forced to pay the Miami Hurricane restitution for the stolen papers.
All year long, the University of Miami has been in a state of renovation and construction. The Rock was tiled and benches were added all over campus. Extra lighting and a traffic circle were installed on San Amaro Dr. to increase safety on the street. Construction for the new convocation center was and is still taking place as is renovation of the Otto G. Richter Library. The Pavia parking lot shut down and the Pavia parking garage is in the midst of going up. Construction for the Pearson garage will begin in May.
OF CHAD MEREDITH
Freshman, Chad Meredith, died while swimming in Lake Osceola on campus early Nov. 5 morning during the aftermath of Hurricane Michelle. Meredith, a native of Indianapolis, Indiana, had been swimming with friends and had been drinking the night before. It was ruled an accidental death with the choppy lake waters, heavy winds, and alcohol consumption as possible factors in the drowning.
Students, administration, benefactors and Florida governor Jeb Bush and Edna C. Shalala [the president’s mother] were on hand for the combined celebration of UM’s 75th anniversary and President Shalala’s inauguration. Although there was the threat of bad weather, the sun shone on Shalala’s official ceremony and the food and festivities that followed.
Homecoming 2001 held all of the traditions that UM holds dearly in greater reverence because of the tragic events earlier in the semester. It was also considered especially important because it was the university’s 75th homecoming. The theme was Storm Watch. Erin Fowler was crowned Miss UM and Cory Cain Mr. UM.
After completing a perfect 11-0 season under the tutelage of first year head coach Larry Coker, the Hurricanes went to Pasadena and completely dominated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 37-14. Ken Dorsey hooked up with his Co-MVP Andre Johnson for two touchdowns. The ‘Canes never looked back from their 34-0 lead at halftime.
On Jan. 25 the city of Miami honored the football champions with a tickertape parade through the streets of Miami. After the parade, UM had their own celebration complete with fireworks and live music for the ‘Canes on the green. President George W. Bush even beamed in via video to congratulate the team.
SEX SCANDALS AT UM
Toppel Career Center employee, Mariselly Chiroldes; two former Toppel employees, Dulce Ramirez-Damon and Francesca Escoto-Zavala; and sophomore Nicole Pytel sued the University of Miami in three sexual harassment lawsuits-two against former Toppel director, Michael Gage and the other against football team employees.
Gage was accused of blatant use of Internet pornography websites and the football team co-workers of disgusting and offensive behavior such as various comments on the size of Pytel’s breasts and the type of underwear she was wearing.
Chiroldes valued the damages she and her newborn baby incurred at $1 million while Ramirez-Damon and Escoto-Zavala sought damages in excess of $15,000. University Relations would not comment on the lawsuits.
IN RESIDENT COLLEGE,
Transfer student, Maria Paola Ramirez, fell from the fire escape of Mahoney Residential College early in Feb. 2002 and was paralyzed. Ramirez was rushed to the Ryder Trauma Center and was then transferred to Jackson Memorial Hospital. According to Amber Lee Condray who found Ramirez lying on the floor, Ramirez told her she had been drinking at the time of the accident.
In the second week of February, UM administrators announced that the school of International Studies would be dissolved and reincarnated as a department within the larger college of Arts and Sciences. This was the second time in the school’s history that a school has been dissolved. President Shalala gave better financial support for international studies as one of the reasons for the dissolution. On Shalala’s birthday, Feb. 14, angry students from SIS confronted the president about her decision, which they felt was not made on their behalf. SIS students protested and went through the official channels to try to abort Shalala’s plans to close the school. But in the end the president won out and as of next semester, there will be no more school of International Studies.
IN CAR CRASH
Senior linebacker Chris Campbell, 21, died in a car crash while driving drunk on Feb. 16, 2002 at a Coral Gables intersection. Joel Rodriguez, who was in the car with Campbell at the time of the accident, left the scene with a punctured lung and a few broken ribs. Campbell was a liberal arts major from Pleasant, Texas and was slated to graduate this May. He was awarded posthumously with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts.
AS SG PRESIDENT
Seasoned student government member, Michael Johnston, was signed in as Student Government President on March 29. He had already held positions as Freshman Senator, Chief of Staff and Speaker of the Senate. Johnston, a junior, ran on the ticket A Change in U…’Cause it’s Time with Justine Levine and Mahala Dar who won their respective races as SG Vice President and Treasurer.
Sophomore wide receiver Andre Johnson was caught plagiarizing in an anthropology course and given the required one-year suspension laid out by the Honor Council. However, on appeal, the Honor Council’s Selections and Appeals Committee-made up of the Vice Provost, the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Student Government President-reduced his sentence to suspension for the upcoming summer sessions. Johnson’s story began a rash of complaints by faculty and students who felt that student athletes received preferential treatment from UM administration.
ARTS AND SCIENCES
Dr. James Wyche was hired as the new Dean of Arts and Sciences-UM’s first African-American undergraduate dean. Wyche held positions as president of Tougaloo College, and professor and associate provost at Brown University. He comes to UM with a background in sciences although his work as the executive director of the Leadership Alliance-a consortium of 23 colleges and universities, including leading research institutions, historically black colleges and six Ivy league schools-has given him a lot of experience in other academic areas.
OF THE YEAR
Jose “Pepi” Diaz, Student Government President for 2001-2002 won the award for Florida College Student Leader of the Year from Florida Leader magazine. Diaz, 21,is UM’s first recipient of the prestigious award and also the first Hispanic-American to ever receive it. He will graduate this May and go on to graduate school at Columbia University.