While the accuracy of Shauna Moffitt’s claims regarding Ben Moffitt’s academic improprieties are nearly impossible to substantiate, it does not prevent the media from taking a stern stance on the issue.
It is clear that USF should work hard to ensure that online courses become easier to monitor, but this is an issue all schools are now facing with the increased need of those courses and expanding technology.
A local paper recently commented on the dangerous waters USF was entering by not investigating the academic integrity of online classes. Additional news sources have weighed in and most of the critiques and opinions are hinting that there is a bigger issue beneath the surface: The integrity of the University is in jeopardy.
The appropriate response to this sudden increase of concern should be: Why do you care now?
Of course, the obvious answer would be that there is more glamour in athlete-related school scandals. Had any other student’s wife come forward with similar charges, the issue would never have made it into the limelight. However, the last year alone has provided more material displaying USF’s lack of concern regarding integrity, and they go much deeper than a single claim of plagiarism.
The school’s decision to audit accusations against Student Affairs Vice President Jennifer Menningall and the subsequent announcement of partial innocence would be a great place to start. That same office, accused of employee intimidation, had employees fired for speculation and unwilling to go on the record regarding certain events for fear of losing their jobs. This clearly shows that there are divisions of the school that are steeped in a culture of fear.
Additionally, the upper echelon of the USF administration has withdrawn further from the reach of the media except in the form of a press conference. The school has also had multiple fallouts with employee unions and it had two different consultants warn that major changes were needed in the school’s priorities.
While the Oracle works to inform students and the public of many glaring issues that USF has been avoiding or overlooking, it is only one outlet. After a while, the repetitive claims are numbing and many people may stop listening.
We hope that the rest of the media that deals with USF will begin to demand answers on issues that aren’t limited to just local celebrity.