Just before the end of last semester, a 43-year-old student was arrested on campus for possession of methamphetamine. As it turns out, that student had three warrants out for his arrest and a felonious criminal background.
Fortunately, Lt. Joshua Pankowsky recognized the man and arrested him.
Despite the eventual outcome of the situation, this discovery is startling. The university has a responsibility to its students-and their parents-to keep students safe. This includes communicating about things that could put them in danger.
Students and their parents pay thousands of dollars for students to attend this institution. Parents send their children to college with the belief that the university will protect their welfare, which includes rejecting admission to people with serious criminal offenses.
See MediaOCU.com for more about the admissions process for students with criminal records.
Officials described the admissions process for students with a criminal past as a “case-by-case process.” This makes sense because students with minor offenses shouldn’t have to struggle with getting a higher education. But when a student has felonies, officials should reject their admission.
There’s a higher expectation of safety and protection when enrolling a student into a private, Methodist university like OCU, not to mention that most students live on campus, which is located in a part of the city that’s known to have crimes. In 2016 alone, 199 crime reports were filed with the Oklahoma City Police Department and 685 citations issued within a half-mile radius of OCU, according to police records. These statistics don’t include OCUPD reports or citations. This area surrounding campus gives university officials even more responsibility to do whatever possible to keep students safe.
Even though people with criminal records absolutely should get a second chance, there’s an unspoken expectation that university officials should at least communicate these matters with students. Students shouldn’t have to feel like university officials are hiding information from them. It is better for officials to volunteer the information unprompted in order to maintain trust with students.