‘You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide’
It is no surprise that college campuses, as microcosms of society, have become prey to the increased violence in our world. However, it is extremely disturbing to hear the stories of young students attacked, assaulted, raped, and even killed while matriculating at institutions of higher learning, once considered one of the safest of havens. It is even more troubling to hear the stories of their parents, wondering what, if anything, they could have done differently, and looking for someone to take accountability for their pain.
John and Karen Grace, of California, know the feeling all too well. Their son, Matthew, was wounded by gunfire last year as a freshman at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Fortunately, he survived the attack and returned to the university. Matthew’s return however, does not mean all is well between the Graces and Howard. As assistant editor Crystal L. Keels reports in our cover story, “The Best-Kept Secret: Crime on Campus,” the Graces along with the family of another student injured in the attack have filed a suit against Howard for negligence and punitive damages, hoping to compel the university to put measures in place to ensure students’ safety and minimize the possibility of such an unfortunate event taking place again.
The Grace family’s story is an indication of a new degree of parental responsibility and intervention. As Crystal writes, “while most parents expect to provide tuition, advice and encouragement for their college-bound children, many parents must now become adept at helping them cope with the aftermath of robbery, rape and in the most severe cases, murder.” In addition to demanding a high-quality education for their children, today’s parents also have to demand safer campuses. Fortunately, many institutions are rising to that challenge and making the protection of their faculty, staff and students a priority.
For the cover story, Crystal spoke to a number of parents and campus security advocates about the increasing violence on today’s campuses. The stories she heard reminded her of other disturbing images of violence, from Iraq, to Littleton, Colo., to Cincinnati, Ohio, to Sept. 11. “The point is,” she says, “in today’s world the old adage ‘you can run but you can’t hide,’ is perhaps more apt than ever.”
On a lighter and more celebratory note, as avid Black Issues readers well know, we are just a little over one month away from our 20th anniversary conference and celebration. In this edition, we announce the winners of the first John Hope Franklin Award. The winners, Dr. David Levering Lewis, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Dr. Sybil C. Mobley have been featured in the pages of this magazine again and again for their exceptional contributions to higher education. We salute their outstanding accomplishments.
Robin V. Smiles
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