It’s been almost five years since EMU’s cover-up of Laura Dickinson’s murder, and, thankfully, it hasn’t been forgotten

For those of you who didn’t catch it, EMU was mentioned in the New York Times a week or so ago. Unfortunately, it wasn’t anything good. It was in relation to the Penn State pedophilia case. EMU, it seems, finds itself in an elite group of American universities – those that have been caught purposefully putting individuals at risk for self-serving reasons… It’s been almost five years now, since EMU administrations tried to hush up the dorm room rape and murder of freshman Laura Dickinson, but I guess some things aren’t so easily forgotten… Here’s a clip from the New York Times:

After the body of an Eastern Michigan University freshman was found in her dorm room in December 2006, naked from the waist down with a pillow over her head, the chief of the university police said there was “no reason to suspect foul play,” and let her parents believe she had died of natural causes.

That silence held for more than two months. In that time, the student who was eventually convicted in her murder had free run of a campus where he was previously caught climbing into a window of a university building…

Part of me feels bad about this… that EMU can’t seem to put this behind them, even after the firing of President Fallon, the paying of $350,000 in federal fines, and the passage of five years without serious incident… but I think it’s probably a good thing. As bad as it might be for the University’s image, I take some comfort in the fact that Dickinson’s murder hasn’t been forgotten, and that the case is still being discussed. One hopes that, maybe, others might learn from it.

Apparently, it wasn’t just the New York Times making the connection between EMU and Penn State. ABC News ran something as well… It was after a mention of this ABC news piece on the site, that Geoff Larcom, EMU’s director of media relations, shared the following.

…But far more important are the measures EMU has taken since this tragedy.

* The police chief now reports directly to President Susan Martin, who reads the daily police reports.

* In 2009, EMU dedicated a new $3.9 million police headquarters, repurposing an old building (Hoyt Center) and turning it into a state-of-the-art facility.

* EMU now has about 400 surveillance cameras on campus.

* EMU increased police and dispatch staffing, including adding a group of respected veteran Ann Arbor police officers.

* Installed swipe locks in first-year dorms and instituted a “Gotcha” program where staff checks student residence hall rooms to ensure they remain locked.

* A new leadership team exists — from president, to police chief, to general counsel, to head of student affairs. In addition, EMU now has a vice president for communications, who ensures proactive communication with the EMU community and the public.

* An open and respective environment has been established among the leadership team to encourage the sharing of information, and training in how to properly report issues has been implemented.

* EMU’s system mandates transparency, and public and proactive dissemination of information such as crime notices that might be considered negative, in order to empower the campus community.

Implementation of these and other initiatives make a significant positive impact among current and prospective students, and faculty and staff. Our crime statistics show a dramatic decline in recent years…

So, what do you think? Has EMU done enough to turn things around? Have they regained your trust? Have they demonstrated that they have the best interests of their students in mind? And, at what point should we forget that EMU administrators told students that there was nothing to worry about when they knew that there was a murderer on campus with access to the dorms? What should the statute of limitations be for something like that, anyway?

[note: Geoff Larcom, as some of you may know, was a reporter at the Ann Arbor News before joining the EMU staff, and, in that role, covered the Dickinson murder case.]

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  1. Josh
    Posted November 20, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    when WCC covered up the sexual assault on campus, EMU students were informed of it before we were.

  2. Anonymous Mike
    Posted November 20, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone know what happened to Fallon? I just did a google search and didn’t find anything.

  3. Edward
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Immediately after his firing, I’d heard that he had taken a job with some kind of industry group representing university administrators. I don’t know if that was permanent, though. As for Dickinson, does anyone know if she has an ongoing presence on campus? Is there a memorial of some kind, or a scholarship in her name? Would students still recognize her name, not 5 years later?

  4. anonymous
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I hate linking to this video, as it was posted by an obvious racist, but I can’t find footage the prayer vigil held for Dickinson’s murderer, anywhere else.

  5. Posted November 21, 2011 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I’m glad that the local community and the nation hasn’t forgotten the Laura Dickinson murder. But now EMU is getting hammered because a student group is inviting Kwame Kilpatrick to speak about 2nd chances or some BS. Needless to say the alums (myself included) are upset about it.

    I’m all about free speech, but yeah that insincere piece of crap is going to do nothing but lie and make it all about him and how he was done wrong. I just think it’s a bad choice. I can’t wait to see if the same kind of dumbass people who support him no matter what show up to this event.

    Lame EMU.

  6. K2
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I wonder what Kwame is getting paid to come and lecture to our children. And, like you, Daivd, I’m all about second chances, but, to my knowledge, Kwame has still to accept responsibility for any of his actions. I think, in order to get a second chance, you first have to acknowledge that you fucked up your first chance. But, if it’s a student group bringing him in, I don’t see what EMU can do about it, unless the have a policy against felons appearing on campus.

  7. LMNOP
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    I hate when my outrage overlaps with that of white supremacists, but that news coverage of the Orange Taylor “vigil” was nauseating. Everyone has a right to a vigorous defense, but I can’t imagine that this man’s family would suggest that their son “only” broke into Dickinson’s room and masturbated on her already dead body. What kind of sick fucking world do we live in?

  8. anonymous
    Posted March 28, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Fallon landed on his feet. It’s just been announced that he’ll be earning a salary of $146,000 as an associate vice president at Ball State University. Not bad for a guy who tried to pass off the rape and murder of a student as a death by natural causes.

  9. Chloe
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately EMU has another tragedy on their hands. Another young woman was just found dead in her dorm room…police are calling the death suspicious and believe foul play is involved. So sad that all of this keeps happening! If I were a parent, my child would not be going to this university.

  10. anonymous
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    She wasn’t in a dorm room, Chloe. She was living off campus, in an apartment. It’s still a horrible story, though. The similarity that struck me is that, as with Laura Dickinson’s murder, this one also took place right before Christmas. I feel horrible for the family.

  11. anon
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    chloe, tell me: does crime happen at u of m, or harvard or oklahoma, or do you suppose it only happens at emu?

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