Our View -- Needed at Presbyterian: A law enforcement probe.
We believe the City of Clinton Police Department should request a State Law Enforcement Division investigation into what happened at Bailey Memorial Stadium on Friday, February 11. The investigation should start with statement(s) from security officer(s) on duty at the stadium that day and review of the stadium’s surveillance video.
PC President Dr. Matt vandenBerg is right, actions have consequences on campus and beyond. Right now, the City of Clinton, South Carolina, is associated with alleged racial harassment. It is in the city’s interest, and the interest of every citizen, indeed every Laurens County citizen as PC proclaims itself to be “Laurens County’s college,” to have this matter professionally investigated.
There are no better investigators in the State of South Carolina than the agents of SLED. They can compel people to sit down for interviews and they have access to high technology equipment.
The stumbling block would be SLED’s workload. Just in the area of officer-involved shootings, agents have been assigned recently to Hemingway, Aiken, Charleston and Florence. There would have to be preliminary determination if there was a potential crime involved - if the allegations are true, we feel it would be at the very least 3rd degree assault. Would that be a “serious enough” crime for a full-scale investigation? South Carolina does not have a hate-crimes law, so state agents would not be empowered to consider civil rights violations.
Many questions exist - why were the Howard University women’s lacrosse players even near Hoseville? In other words, how did they even come into contact with “white boys in pickup trucks,” as the coach said? Locker rooms are at the other end of the stadium. Who with the college approached these people and put an end to their conduct (we would like to give this person a medal)? If a security guard intervened, what names did he/she write down?
An “independent counsel” can ask these questions, and perhaps get some answers; but that is Presbyterian College paying for its own investigation. For the college’s purposes that could move forward, if for no other reason than to determine future security measures. But we think law enforcement is more appropriate here.
Criminal charges need to be brought, if an investigation shows any are warranted. That makes the names, ages and hometowns of anyone 17 or older a matter of public record. Honor Code violations, suspensions, and expulsions do not do that, because of federal student-privacy laws. We also wonder if there has been a Title IX violation here (probably why PC had to self-report to the Big South Conference).
And perhaps there is a concern with Howard University itself. Some despicable person has been calling in bomb threats to the Washington, D.C. campus - perhaps Howard is being targeted, nationally. South Carolina State University softball players were competing at PC that same weekend - just a few yards from the stadium - but as far as we know, they were not targeted for racial and sexual harassment. Howard University Security, we feel certain, would want to know if their student-athletes are “targets” by something more sinister than white boys in trucks.
Because of the “nothing happened” and “wait for the investigation” and “don’t believe everything people say” sentiment playing out on social media and elsewhere, a requested and announced law enforcement investigation is warranted here. Let SLED tells us if there is no crime - let the courts take their course if there is.