Wondering how this slipped by me! I guess this goes in the “bad press & institutional silence” folder.
I was driving through Uptown today when I saw the large sign in front of the FIJI fraternity house offering a reward for clues as the May 25th house fire has been ruled arson. According to my Google searches, this story broke on July 9, with a less than eye-catching headline from the Oxford Press and was picked up the next day by the HuffingtonPost. The Miami Student ran a story online July 11, but didn’t bother to tweet about it until a week later on July 16. Finally, on July 17 the Oxford Press resurfaced this story in two sentences framing an expose on the “Storied History” of the house, maybe hoping all the pathos would distract us from the crime that happened in our false-sense-of safe college town.
Now, when this fire happened on May 25, this was all over my radar—Facebook friends were sharing pictures and news articles and posting statuses about the tragic fire; multiple tweets and retweets expressing shock, sympathy, horror regarding the fire from the Dayton Daily News, Oxford Press, Miami University, and Miami Student accounts, as well as the Oxford Fire Department and Oxford Police.
All of these sources seem to have brushed aside the follow up: that is, the arson investigation. Although there are tweets connected to the news stories, they very much downplay the criminal nature of the arson, and everything about the reportage here doesn’t dare bring up the obvious suspects: the students living in the house the weekend this fire happened—all but two of whom were conveniently not around when the fire destroyed this storied home of some of Miami’s most privileged past and future alumni.
Just as when this school gets national attention for rape fliers and racism, it clams up when it appears the time-honored Greek tradition of harboring criminals is out in the open. Yet again, this institution chooses to remain silent and protect their resources when bad press comes their way threatening to dismantle the image.
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