Main Point

The Main Point is an opinion written collectively by The University Star's Editorial Board. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of our entire publication.

Texas State issued a campus-wide alert on Oct. 12, stating an “ongoing student disciplinary situation” had led to an increase in university police presence. According to the university, the incident presented no active threat to campus.

Several hours later, the university announced the incident centered around an image shared by a student for a class assignment. Texas State said the situation was resolved by campus police and the Dean of Students Office and that the suspected student was not on campus Oct. 12.

Texas State downplayed the severity of the situation and put thousands of faculty and students at risk by stating there was an increase in police presence across campus without giving a clear answer as to why and tweeting that the student was not on campus without reassurance the situation was under control.

Regardless of whether or not there was an active threat to campus, the university’s message was unclear. There was no incident location or suspect information provided, causing students to wonder where the student was at large and if they were in danger by being on campus.

With minimal information provided by the university, misinformation quickly spread on Twitter and across campus. Some students tweeted reports of an active shooter while others claimed their classes that day had been canceled. Texas State responded to the allegations by stating that it would send out notifications through text and email if there were an active threat.

According to the Clery Act, universities and colleges that receive federal funding must provide timely warnings when a situation on campus threatens the safety of students and/or faculty. Despite claims there was no active threat, there was a heavy police presence indicating there was some form of hazard that called for an increase of “protection.” Students, faculty and staff deserved to know what the “ongoing student disciplinary situation” was that called for such a demand in police presence.

The university claims that due to federal education privacy laws (FERPA), it could not disclose the suspected student’s educational records, including information related to discipline or conduct. However, because the situation was handled by the university police department, more information could have been disclosed as FERPA states records of law enforcement agencies are not confidential. Therefore, there is no difference whether the situation is prosecuted as a crime or student disciplinary process.

While university compliance with federal regulations is understandable, Texas State could have been clearer in its notifications to the campus community. A statement announcing there is an on-campus “student disciplinary action” that requires police attention is not enough.

But the truth is, Texas State is notorious for its shady and dangerous behavior. The university underreporting crime and invoking fear across campus isn’t anything new. In 2019, the university misreported campus crime statistics in its Annual Security and Fire Safety Report. Just last semester, Texas State issued a vague statement surrounding an alleged sexual assault on campus.

This lack of transparency is dangerous and harms thousands of students who attend this university. Texas State’s repeated actions of secrecy shows that it does not value its students, only its image.

Journalism is an act of civic responsibility. We see our work as a public service that is necessary for a community to thrive because knowledge is empowering. If you enjoyed this story, please consider helping us "Defend the First Amendment" by donating today!

Load comments