June 18, 2007

Eastern Michican University Ombuds and Others Criticized for Withholding Details of Murder Investigation

An investigation into the handling of a student death at Eastern Michigan University has found that several officials, including the university ombudsperson, concealed information from top administrators and students in violation of federal law and personal trust. After the death of a female undergraduate in December 2006, EMU initially maintained that there was "no reason to suspect foul play." In fact, the facts clearly indicated it was a homicide and another student was arrested two months later. Greg Peoples, the ombudsperson and dean of students was a spokesperson for the University as details of the investigation later emerged. In addition to briefing the press, it was Peoples who disclosed news of the arrest to the victim's parents.

In response to public outcry over the deliberate deception, the Board of Regents hired the Detroit law firm of Butzel Long to investigate the university's handling of the incident. The extensive report concludes that university administrators, including Peoples, took no steps to correct the widespread impression the student had died naturally or to issue warnings required by the Clery Act. Butzel Long made recommendations as to how the Clery Act should be implemented on the campus but refrained from laying blame on any individuals for any cover-up. (Buetzel Long Report, see pp. 231 and 280; Chronicle of Higher Ed; Ann Arbor News; Watching Politics Blog.)

(Related post After Student Death, Eastern Michigan Ombuds Acts as University Spokesperson.)

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