Soul-Searching at Towson State

May 11, 1991

It is bad enough that a Towson State University football player is charged with attempting to murder a fellow student in a brawl after an off-campus party. But what about the seven friends who witnessed the brawl? After it was over, they reportedly placed the bloodied victim's limp body in the bed of a pickup truck. They then "voted" to take him to St. Joseph Hospital, where they told a receptionist they found the unconscious man lying on the side of the road.

Ours is such a violent society that few things astound us any more. But when something like that happens in Towson, the campus and the larger community should be shocked.

Towson State no longer is a sleepy county seat. If it were incorporated, it would be a major city with many of a city's problems. The university, for its part, no longer is a small State Normal School. Whereas a mere 1,640 attended its classes in 1960, total TSU enrollment today exceeds 15,000. And while even as recently as a decade ago, 96 percent of the student body came from Maryland, now about 34 percent of the freshman class comes from outside Maryland.

These changes are important to recognize, especially since after last Sunday's incident conflicting perceptions were reported about the severity of overall student rowdiness. Baltimore County police, who take a broad law-enforcement view, say they have been having a tough time in deciding how to deal with student misconduct off-campus. TSU officials, on the other hand, say they were not aware of the "magnitude of the problem."

The violent student brawl, and the apparent callousness of students toward a friend, is causing painful soul-searching on the Towson State campus -- much as several rapes on campus did last year. Officials are wondering where they and the education system failed, and what can be done to address the problem.

As the spring semester ends, university officials must redouble their contacts with Towson neighborhoods to learn about and resolve the problems the expanding campus has created. In the athletic program, sensitivity training is needed. In general, Towson State University officials should use the light attendance of the summer session for internal review to make sure that its procedures are adequate to cope with the social complexities of a major college campus.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.