In today’s online edition of the Washington Post, Lisa Rein describes a “civil war” at the Academy over the sexual assault/sexual harassment (“SA/SH”) issues. That’s really not an accurate description at all.
First, I know of no one that doesn’t think the SA/SH issues that do exist should not be addressed. That’s not what the “war” is about. It’s about the misuse of SA/SH statistics to justify the cancellation of a core part of the academy’s curriculum (sea year) in an effort to hide the leadership failures that led to the Academy becoming the first federal academy to ever be placed on accreditation warning by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (“MSCHE”). And, it’s about (1) the fact that the Academy is on accreditation warning; (2) must address the issues that MSCHE identified by March 1, 2017 (four months from today),and (3) rather than taking prompt action to address those steps, the Academy instead initiated the sea year
stand down cancellation — which in this writer’s opinion will probably raise even greater concerns for MSCHE when it returns to the campus next year.
Second, it’s not a “civil war.” That terms implies a group turned inwards and engaging in conflict with itself. In this case, the midshipmen, alumni, parents, Congress, and shipping industry are unified and fighting against the entrenched bureaucracy at DOT/MARAD that is attempting to avoid accountability for the MSCHE accreditation fiasco. This is a rebellion against incompetent bureaucrats, not a civil war.
Another clarification. The article says that “the alumni” have put up two websites and links to this site as one of the two sites. It then refers to a press release from the USMMAAAF’s public relations firm stating that the Academy had blocked access to “its websites.” This website and the posts put up on it are NOT affiliated with the USMMA Alumni Association and Foundation. The Alumni Association does not have any input on what is posted on this website and does not fund or otherwise support this website. As far as I know, the Academy has not blocked access to this website and Google Analytics indicates that the number one city for traffic to the website is Kings Point, NY.
And a major correction, the article incorrectly states that the Alumni Association was “banned” from campus after independent auditors found financial irregularities with its budget. That is simply wrong. The Alumni Association was evicted from its headquarters on campus in 2013 because the administration claimed — falsely — that it needed the space for temporary classrooms while other classrooms were renovated. There was no funding for such renovations and the space previously used by the Alumni Association has sat empty and unused ever since the eviction. The reason that the administration evicted the Alumni Association and purged leadership at the Academy of all alumni was to avoid oversight by the one group with the power to hold leadership accountable for its many, many failings. The Alumni Association is not “banned” from campus and is a regular, and important, presence on the campus and the Association and its members continue to generously support the Academy notwithstanding the current antagonistic leadership. As to the issue of financial irregularities, it appears that Ms. Rein is confused. The major funding irregularity involving the Academy dealt with MARAD‘s incompetence in managing the Academy’s budget. MARAD botched the job so badly that Congress took the Academy Superintendent’s ability to spend money away and the Department of Transportation then pulled much of the Academy’s administration away from MARAD. (The only financial issue with the Alumni Association was self-detected by the Association when it hired auditors to review its processes. The review determined that the Association’s staff was not accounting for donations properly. The Association fixed the problem, imposed appropriate controls to prevent a recurrence, and did so with full transparency. All of this was done years before the Association was evicted.)
I appreciate the WAPO referring readers to this site. I hope you’ll look it over. I think you will find that the posts are meticulously documented — and accurate.