Administration certainly tries very hard to appear friendly and approachable. They emphasize building a UMBC community and will phrase issues around campus in that regard. When administration was revealed to have been covering up cases of sexual assault and rape for years, they emphasized the need to “rebuild trust” and “communicate.” As though we were going through nothing more than a neighborly spat.
Yet when you press them, when you really press them, their true face is revealed. It is cold. It is calculating. It is the face of a business who sees every student as nothing more than a source of revenue and cares for that student only so far as it is profitable.
This opinion is a contentious one, though perhaps not as contentious as it may have been previously. This claim has been dismissed in the past as a baseless conspiracy theory. I do understand why some may think that; there is a definite appeal to trying to find a soul in UMBC’s administration, if only because believing administration to be on your side is considerably more comforting than the alternative.
Yet that uncomfortable reality will appear after dealing with administration long enough. The most glaring and widespread instance of this probably being their response to the cover-up last semester.
Take the meeting in President Hrabowski’s office between himself and a group of student protestors. At this meeting he was polite and seemingly sympathetic, offering praise to the students in his office for their willingness to stand up for something they believed in. This had the effect of putting many in the office at ease.
Out of all administrators on campus Hrabowski is likely the most loved, and for good reason. He is particularly personable and has proven to be incredibly good at his job, allowing the university to experience one of its most successful periods under his leadership. Yet, he is still an administrator and that showed at the meeting.
The sense of ease he had spun was shattered as his position was challenged. His claim of ignorance regarding the cover-up was challenged by an alum, who had told him about the problem years before. Their objections were dismissed. His claim that this controversy was in whole or in part a communication error was challenged by several students. Their objections were dismissed. The issue of removing the administrators who were behind the cover-up was brought up. He deflected it with a lengthy description of the legal ambiguities that surrounded the case.
I do not believe that President Hrabowski is secretly evil or secretly hates the student body. I do believe that he was representing the interests of the university in a case wherein the interests of the university and the student body were diametrically opposed.
Furthermore, I do believe that these sorts of issues of conflicting interests are inherent in the institution of the university itself. The university cares about making money. Every other concern is considered only insofar as it is profitable.
Why keep Paul Dillon, a man despised by much of the student body, as Chief of Police? Simply because he seems to know to put the money first. Security is a secondary concern to him and admin. That is why he would dismiss the danger of having inoperable blue lights in the events center, or why he would dismiss students’ mobility concerns. This is even why his department would help cover up crimes that would reflect negatively on the image of the university.
To that end, why does the university allow admitted rapists to remain on campus, in the student body? To their very slim credit they do seem to have tried to have some consideration for safety by implementing Interim Protective Measures that would limit access to campus to these individuals, but when those measures were challenged the university chose to maintain the cover-up over the safety of its students.
This may seem very dramatic, but the actions of the university are not nonsensical. Instances where the university opposes the interests of students are not bizarre accidents, they are instead part of a larger pattern of policy that campus administration adheres to. It is simply healthiest for any student or any prospective student to be aware of that and to be ready to stand up for themselves and their peers.