Since 2008, the college has reported only six on-campus crimes tofederal officials - one robbery and five aggravated assaults,characterized by a college official as fistfights, documentsprovided to the Globe show. Those numbers, seen as unusually lowfor an urban campus, and the absence of more major offenses drewthe attention of federal investigators, according to a personfamiliar with the inquiry. Tuesday marks the second time federal education officials havevisited the college to seek out crime report records and relatedinformation. Department of Education officials first requested thecollege"s crime information in February. In a Feb. |
27 letterto Gomes, the Department of Education asked for access to a varietyof college records, so that officials can "evaluate yourinstitution"s compliance with the . . . Disclosure of CampusSecurity Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.
. .""Failure to provide access, the letter said, could result in"administrative action against the institution""- including fines or a loss of funding. Officials are seekingreports dating to 2006. In addition to filing crime statistics with the federal government,colleges are also required to post that information on theirwebsites.
At least three Roxbury Community College students over the last twoyears have reported previous crimes - including sexual assaults -on the campus, according to a two college officials who requestedanonymity. One student wrote a memo to school officials describingseparate sexual assaults at the hands of two staff members,including one of her professors, the official said. A copy of thememo was provided to the Globe. There is no record that either alleged assault was reported toBoston police. An administrator later told other officials that theallegations were without merit, though the student"sfinancial aid was immediately increased, according to collegeofficials with knowledge of the situation.
The campus crime audit comes at a time of intense scrutiny for the2,000-student community college. Board members have been baffled byGomes"s refusal to take part in a privately fundedjob-training program that would have come at no expense to thecollege. At the same time, spring semester financial aid payments to some1,400 students have run about three months behind schedule.Administrators have blamed the delay on a computer problem, thoughother officials attribute it to ineffective student advising. Hanging in the balance is Gomes"s future at the school.Trustees scheduled an emergency meeting Monday night on campus todiscuss his tenure.
Board chairwoman Anita Crawford could not bereached for comment Monday. Gomes, who became president in 2003, joined the campus afterserving as a vice president at Massasoit Community College.However, according to his online biography, his ties to RoxburyCommunity College date to 1977, when he was hired as assistant deanof faculty. The recent spate of negative news articles has prompteda handful of faculty members to come to his defense, though othershave quietly expressed disappointment in his leadership. Gomes has declined to comment on the recent controversies oncampus. However, the college has sought the communicationsassistance of the downtown crisis managers O"Neill andAssociates, which has sought to portray him as a committed leaderunder attack from the city"s power structure.
That portrayal, however, is sharply at odds with that of businessleaders and Beacon Hill insiders who insist that Gomes inexplicablydeclined to give his support to a job training program intended tooffer job opportunities to Roxbury Community College students. The program - which had the support and financial backing ofseveral corporate executives - is now headquartered at Bunker HillCommunity College. State officials say the school"s graduation rate is a mere 6percent. However, some Roxbury officials maintain that not all oftheir students are interested in degrees, and that many facepersonal challenges that lead to spotty performance. That debate, however, could pale in comparison to findings ofunreported crime - particularly unreported serious crimes.
Federalsanctions could include loss of funding. Colleges have argued thatonly allegations resulting in police investigations are coveredunder the law, a notion the federal government disputes. Roxbury Community College is no stranger to controversy. Anotherpresident was fired in the early 1990s after the college wasdiscovered to be receiving federal funding for a bogus English as aSecond Language program.
Suspicions were raised when the school suddenly became home to alarge number of Russian-speaking students with no ties to Roxbury.Lured by the promise of financial aid money with no heavy effort,they signed up, even though many of them had already been tocollege. One, in fact, was a surgeon. Try BostonGlobe.com today and get two weeks FREE. Adrian Walker is a Globe columnist.
He can be reached at . Follow him on Twitter @Adrian_Walker .
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