Thursday, May 15, 2008

Enterprise Story- Unpublished Version For Class

Echoes of Fear Still Ring Out

A year and a half after the Dec. 15, 2006 murder of Laura Dickinson committed on Eastern Michigan University’s campus students still fear for their safety.
“I would tell them I completely understand their apprehension,” said Student Body President Greg Jones. “However, the problems that have occurred in the past are largely a result of systematic failures that have now been highlighted and are being resolved.”
According to the Program Review Report by the U.S. Department of Education from June 29, 2007, from the time of the murder to the time of the arrest “EMU did not provide any relevant information to the campus that would alert it of a potential safety threat.”
“It was frustrating because the misinformation and then the murder revelation caused students to fear and be angry,” said former Student body President during the Dickinson murder Daniel Cicchini. “What the police did may not necessarily have endangered students but the way the information came out created terrible fear. Students were never in danger but the way the info was handled was irresponsible.”
“There are no benefits for covering up crimes,” said the new DPS Chief Greg O’Dell. “I think it is important to be completely open and honest.”
The Department of Education in their Program Review Report concluded EMU was noncompliant in several areas with the Clery Act.
EMU failed to provide a “Timely Warning” in response to a homicide investigation, had a lack of administrative capability, lacked a timely warning policy, failed to properly disclose crime statistics, lacked adequate policy statements, failed to report all required statistics occurring on public property and in non-campus buildings or property, and failed to properly maintain a crime log.
“I can think of one or two incidents in all of the years that I have been working where it was briefly beneficial to withhold information,” said Chief O’Dell. “Withholding information almost never makes sense.”
According to the report EMU misreported sexual offense crimes in the Annual Security Report for 2003-2005. Four non-forcible sex offenses in 2003, one non-forcible sex offense in 2004, and three non-forcible sex offenses in 2005 met the definition for and should have been reported as forcible criminal sexual conduct incidents.
EMU also misreported campus judiciary referrals and arrest statistics related to alcohol, drug and illegal weapons possession violations.
The report also points out information listed in electronic form and on the Internet has conflicted with information in the Annual Security Report. For example, crimes have not been categorized by location as required by law. Time frames have also been left out of reporting. EMU has also been accused of inaccurately or not in a timely matter updating the campus crime log maintained by DPS and required by law.
“I would absolutely comply with federal law,” said Chief O’Dell. “You are doing a great disservice not to come forward with information. If we have information that applies why not tell [the community].”
Security on Campus, Inc filed a formal complaint against EMU for violating the Clery Act. EMU was accused of withholding information and not presenting the campus community with a “timely warning” that a potential murder was committed on campus.
On Dec. 15, 2006, 22-year-old Laura Dickinson of Hastings was found dead on the floor of her dorm room on the fifth floor of Hill Hall. Dickinson was found naked from the waist down with a pillow over her head.
On Dec. 16, 2006 EMU released a written statement explaining, “at this point there is no reason to suspect foul play.” A series of reasons for Dickinson’s death soon followed. A potential drug and/or alcohol overdose was ruled out by an autopsy. A heart condition was also blamed for the death and later ruled out.
In Eastern Echo reporter Christine Laughren’s “Student Found Dead in Dorm,” Dickenson’s father is quoted as saying he did not believe his daughter died as a result of violence. The article was published on Jan. 9, 2007.
On Feb. 23, 2007, 21-year-old Orange Taylor III was arrested and charged with the rape and murder of Dickinson.
“Students did not necessarily have the right to know all of the details of the investigation,” said Cicchini. “But students had a right to not deliberately be lied to and to be informed.”
“There was a complete lack of the proper structure to handle an on-campus murder,” said Jones. “As a result, EMU was caught off guard and some people made some decisions that hurt the university pretty badly.”
After the complaint was lodged by Security on Campus, Inc, Vice President for Student Affairs Jim Vick was placed on paid administrative leave. Eventually, Vick, President John Fallon, and Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police Cindy Hall were fired.
“To my understanding they were involved in the investigation,” said Cicchini. “I did not know more than what other students were told. I think there was a series of poor decisions and correctable mistakes.”
According to the Ann Arbor News, EMU settled with the Dickinson family for $2.5 million. However, the settlement did not include an admission of liability on the part of the university.
According to EMU was fined $357,000 for violating the Clery Act. The University was found guilty of committing 13 offenses against the federal law.
According to the Ann Arbor News even after EMU was cited for violating federal law, the campus failed to issue a campus wide security alert four months after the incident.
Two students witnessed an intruder grab a computer and flee from their room Nov. 1, 2007. EMU failed to comply with the Clery Act while being scrutinized for violating the Clery Act.
“One thing I am doing is evaluating all procedures,” said Chief O’Dell. “I have issued new ones and worked with legal council. Some have already taken affect.”
While there was a murder on campus and there are occasional crimes EMU’s crime statistics are comparable to other large universities. According to the EMU safety and security website the Dickinson murder was the only on-campus homicide in EMU’s 159-year history.
“I did a matrix of crime statistics,” said Chief O’Dell. “I put together the MAC schools and local Michigan schools. We are in the middle or bottom third of most of the statistics.”
The Department of Education Report does site errors in statistical reporting of crimes by EMU, however, also points out EMU has seen a decline in sex offenses, robberies and aggravated assaults since 2005 to 2006.
“Campus safety efforts have been stepped up in hiring an outside security firm to augment the existing framework, SEEUS hours have been expanded and just about every member of the administration was required to attend a two-day training session on the Clery Act,” said Jones. “The systematic issues that caused the subsequent debacle seems to have been resolved.”
According to the EMU safety and security website EMU has experienced a drop in the number of forcible sexual offenses. The sexual offenses on EMU’s campus have dropped from 11 to six during the last year.
EMU also installed over 200 security cameras, added swipe cards at the entrances of 11 residence halls and changed more than 5,500 locks.
“I think the university offers many services to assist in being prepared to deal with crime,” said Jones. “The situation is slowly improving.”
EMU offers crime prevention seminars. Since 1987 there have been over 1,200 seminars.
Some seminars include rape aggression defense, theft prevention and self-defense protection. For more information on crime prevention seminars contact Officer Candice Dorsey at (734) 487-0987.

City Council Story- Unpublished

Concerned with parking issues, Berkley residents confronted the city council at the bimonthly meeting on Monday.
Residents living on Edgewood Street voiced their concerns to the council about the potential dangers of a new local restaurants parking situation.
Bagger Daves’, located at the corner of Edgewood Street and Coolidge Highway, patrons are parking on Edgewood Street when the lot is full.
Resident Mary Nelson voiced her concern about being unable to park in her driveway.
“It is very inconvenient, more than inconvenient, in fact, dangerous when they park on either side of my driveway in particular,” said Nelson. “I don’t think we are getting a fair share of our tax dollars.”
Resident, Michelle Buckler, voiced her concerns about child safety.
“I think it is rather dangerous,” said Buckler. “We have a lot of children on our block who play outside and run around.”
The solution may be as simple as stop sign at the exit or making the street permit paring only.
“Why couldn’t e make this permit parking for residents?” asked Buckler
Another resident Lyoness Borowski is trying to sell his house but fears the constant traffic on his street will drop property values.
“ Seven days a week there is no chance for anyone stopping by to visit to park there,” said Borowski. “Property values with the way they are going is going down and people aren’t going to want to move here with the parking situation.”
Councilman Phil O’Dwyer said most Berkley citizens are receptive to the new businesses coming to the area.
“We will need to look to a way to work with Bagger Daves to allow business to continue but also satisfy the citizens,” said O’Dwyer.
The city council welcomed a new member to the Berkley Police Force. Dennis Greary was sworn in as a Public Safety Officer.
“There are roughly 45 officers in the Berkley Police Department,” said O’Dwyer. “There were two sworn in this year because of retirements”
Another major topic of discussion was the closing of the Berkley Veteran’s of Foreign War Post 9222.
Resident Ben Baily wants the community to understand that VFW Post 9222 is not just for socializing and drinking.
“We are currently doing things like adopt a highway and we are staying active,” said Baily. “We are not trying to receive recognition or accolades we are trying to get an understanding from the community that we are more than just old guys who sit at a bar.”
Post 9222 served the community for 54 years.
“The VFW was present in the community through service,” said O’Dwyer. “This certainly is a nostalgic time.”

Court Story Example-unpublished

ROSEVILLE – A Fraser man pleaded not guilty to illegal possession of a narcotic on Feb. 27 at the 39th District Court of the State of Michigan.
Matthew Gordon was pulled over by Roseville police on Dec. 15, 2007 and allegedly had Oxycodone on his person without a prescription. He was charged with illegal possession of a narcotic and faces a felony conviction.
Judge Catherine B. Steenland asked Gordon if he had anything to say. Gordon proceeded to apologize and was stopped by Judge Steenland.
“You don’t want to do that Mr. Gordon,” said Judge Steenland. “Do you have the money to post bond; at least $1,000?”
Judge Steenland noticed a baby in the courtroom.
“Is that your baby?” asked Judge Steenland.
Gordon nodded.
“Ok, can you post $500?“ asked Judge Steenland. “I am being extremely generous here.”
“Yeah, I can do that,” said Gordon. “Thank you judge.”
Gordon is expected to appear in court on March 5 for a preliminary examination.
Another Fraser man pleaded guilty to his second Operating While Under the Influence offense. In order to plead guilty Kenneth Bender had to corroborate the charges.
On Dec. 2,2007 Bender was pulled over by Roseville Police and according to his attorney Bender had a blood alcohol content of 0.18.
“I went out around 9 p.m. and had my share of three pitchers of beer,” said Bender. “I left the bar at around 12:30 a.m. and that’s when I was pulled over.”
Judge Steenland dropped Bender’s other charge of failure to change the address on an operator’s license.
“I will dismiss this charge since you are pleading guilty today,” said Judge Steenland.
Bender was convicted of his first OWI offense on June 24, 2003.
Bender was released on a $750 bond and will be sentenced on March 26.
A Chesterfield man also pleaded guilty to his second OWI offense. Roseville Police pulled over Edward Lavender on Feb. 12.
“I had four Long Island Iced Teas your honor,” said Lavender. Lavender was given two breathalyzers and subsequently had a BAC of 0.22 and 0.21.
“That’s a lot of liquor Mr. Lavender,” said Judge Steenland.
Lavender was convicted of his first OWI offense in Nov. 2007. He was released on a $250 bond. His sentencing will be on March 26.
Taminia Miller of Ypsilanti appeared for sentencing. The court did not state her offense.
Miller’s attorney argued she was in a tight financial situation and could not afford to pay large fines.
“She has three teenagers,” said Miller’s attorney. “Her paychecks are already being garnished because she previously filled for bankruptcy.”
Steenland sentenced Miller to 12 months probation. Miller is also ordered to attend an alcohol education program and a victim education panel. She must maintain employment and under no circumstances is permitted to use non-prescription drugs or drink alcohol.
Miller will be subject to random drug and alcohol screens. She must pay her $900 court fees within 180 days.
“I don’t expect to see you back here,” said Steenland. “I have been extremely generous and if I see you back that means you broke probation.”

Fighter Diary #5

Wow I need a sponsor. These as prices are killing me. Driving 120 mi round trip every time I have to go to school and paying for classes are breaking my bank so bad that I can't train right now without a sponsor. We moved to a new gym and as opposed to being 1 mi from my house it is not 20 mi from my house, which relatively speaking is not far, but when I am driving so much already it is not so good. Plus I am going to HI in July and I don't get paid vacation days so I am hurting. And before anyone thinks poorly of my decision to go to HI it may be my last opportunity to go for just the plane ride. I don't have to pay for lodging and all of my friends know the non-tourists spots to hit. I am actually hoping to get some features and compositions out of the trip. So Bill Gates if you are out there and find this blog I really could use a sponsor :)

School board story example- unpulished

WARREN - The Royal Oak Chapter of the Chinese Cultural Exchange Program joined the Warren Consolidated School District’s School Board at their March 19 meeting.
“We are all very aware that the global economy is a reality today,” said Executive Director of Secondary Education Todd Biederwolf. “We have to ensure our students that they will be competitive in business.”
Biederwolf and the Chinese Cultural Exchange Program members asked board members to support their initiative to begin a program that would eventually lead to high school students from China graduating from Warren Consolidated High Schools. Warren Consolidated Students would also have the opportunity to graduate from Chinese high schools.
Biederwolf and his supporters, including Principal of Sterling Heights High School Bob Scheonerr, believe programs such as these will allow American students to be competitive in business, understand the global economy, and learn Mandarin Chinese.
“Teaching our students Chinese is incredibly important to be well versed in today’s culture,” said Principal Scheonerr. “We hope that next year we can bring Shanghai students to Michigan. They will live in a boarding style home with adult supervision and graduate from Sterling with an American diploma.”
Eastern Michigan University and the International Higher Education Exchange Center have teamed up with Sterling Heights High School to aid in developing the program so all Warren Consolidated students can partake in the cultural exchange.
The board members were also asked to support changes in testing policies in the district in order to be compliant with policy 545 of the Michigan Merit Curriculum.
“I think it is important we talk about a waiver here,” said Biederwolf. “It’s not that we don’t care about health in education, but a student should be allowed to get that half credit in an area of interest.”
The board supported the change in the testing policy. Students will no longer be required to fulfill their half credit in health class in order to graduate. Now students may take another unrestricted elective, such as art, and will be eligible to graduate.
“Students may also be exempted from gym class with two seasons on the same J.V. or Varsity sport, two years of marching band, or one year of passing grade in WCS performing arts classes,” said Biederwolf. “The question is should we continue to do this?”
The board voted to allow students to continue to be exempt from gym class if they fulfill the requirement another way.
Students may also test out of classes so long as they receive a C-plus or higher. This raised concern with some board members.
“My own concern is a C-plus,” said Vice President Brendan Wagner. “I think we need to raise the bar. For testing, this is too low and most can do that with little effort.”
According to Biederwolf, the board cannot mandate students must receive a higher test score while testing out of classes because a C-plus is acceptable in Michigan law.
The Board also announced that Carter, Grissom and Carleton Middle Schools made it to the state band competition.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


As an aspiring journalist I am really struggling now. With the cyclone a few weeks ago and now the Earthquake that has claimed 12,000 to date with he tole steadily rising I have begun to ask myself can I do this job? Will I be able to hold back the tears as countless lifeless bodies of children are pulled from the rubble of what once was a safe place for them to be. The tiny frozen hand clutching the pencil as if the child was gong to write his next sentence when his life was so ruthlessly stolen from him? Should I have to hold back the tears when reporting on such a catastrophe? Is that healthy or even human? I am a very empathetic person. As I saw the mothers clutching the bodies of their now dead children I cried, and I felt a heart so sharp in my heart I thought I may be sick. But why as a journalist is that so wrong? Isn't the point of journalism to bring the facts to the world, to help people through print? So why should I have to leave out the pain I feel when such a horrific event occurs? I am a strong woman, I am independent, dependable, practical, timely, yet this struck a chord with me. I won't apologize for that and I am not sure I have to even if some of the old timers would believe differentially.