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EDITORIAL: University needs to be more transparent about suspension of Morgan Ellison


Last month, IU released a statement that sophomore running back Morgan Ellison has been indefinitely suspended from all football activities. 

However, the University refuses to say anything else about the matter. 

IU is not exactly known for its great communication and student body safety, so while this doesn’t come as a surprise, the editorial board feels that IU needs to be completely transparent about disciplinary measures taken.

In the past, when IU has suspended athletes, press releases often included the reasoning, be it alcohol, drugs or misconduct. So when IU indefinitely suspends a player and refuses to say why, red flags are raised.

If IU had no issue releasing names and facts related to other players’ suspensions in the past, they cannot suddenly pass it off as a respect of privacy for Morgan Ellison. More so, the University ought to care about public safety of its student body more than it does about its reputation.

Last year when IU indefinitely suspended Jordan Fuchs, they disclosed that it was a positive test for anabolic steroids. If IU is open about its prime athletes being booted for drugs, there should be no reason to suddenly clam up about this instance.

When news like this breaks, people usually assume the worst. Since IU will not release if this suspension was academic, drugs or drinking, it gives the uneasy feeling that it might be something more criminal.

In any case, IU is doing no favors to its reputation, its student body or its athletes. 

If Ellison truly was not involved in anything more illicit than drinking or doing drugs, IU is dragging his name through the mud by not disclosing the reason for his dismissal. And if the suspension was punishment for some other behavior, not disclosing that information creates a hazard to public safety. 

Without assuming anything about Ellison, we separately know that IU’s policies for sexual assault and Title IX are less than optimal.

The Indiana Daily Student conducted a yearlong investigation into IU's sexual assault policies entitled The System, where more of this information can be found. 

Separate from this issue of suspension, we have seen that students have felt unsafe at the school due to the University's lack of transparency and cooperation with its students, specifically regarding sexual assault allegations and compliance with Title IX. Although IU has issued several formal statements condemning the acts of sexual assault, its actions leave much to be desired. 

Just this past summer, IU student Ellie Johnson took to social media leading a campaign against the University after she felt it violated her Title IX rights.

Johnson’s story is among many others at IU, even for those who have not filed formal complaints. She organized the Shatter the Silence march, where about 100 students gathered in hopes of changing the way IU handles cases of sexual violence.

IU has received four separate complaints since 2014 about its Title IX practices which resulted in the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights investigating it. Although the university was cleared of all four complaints, that doesn’t erase the University’s past, or the fact that some students still think that these cases were mishandled.

There is also the question of IU Athletics in general. IU made the decision in 2017 to ban any athletes with a history of sexual or domestic violence, but this refers to students who have been convicted of these crimes, as opposed to those who have been accused.

In 2017, IU basketball alone made a revenue of almost $24 million. The total revenue for IU athletics was $106,139,192. Naturally, athletics are important here. It is easy to assume the school wants to protect the reputation of its athletic program, even if it comes at the cost of the reputations of the athletes.

IU athletes have been suspended for sexual violence and misconduct in the past. In 2016, football player Kiante Ellis was arrested for child molestation and immediately dropped from the team. In this case, since he was arrested, the information was released immediately by the sheriff's department and many outside news sources.

If the student athlete in question is not arrested, perhaps it is impossible to find these details of what really happened.

We know that IU seldom chooses to divulge details that could tarnish its name and reputation, but this institution should consider making its student body a priority rather than the University's appearance. There is a big difference between a student being suspended for a harmless infraction and endangering other students. 

In the event that Ellison’s suspension was related to something more serious than run of the mill misconduct, not only is IU protecting its reputation, it appears that it is also treating its athletes with special privilege due to their pseudo-public figure status.  

If the suspension is the result of common misconduct that does not endanger anyone else, then the University has a duty to put its student body at ease.

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