M.E.N. disscusses how to help a gangbanger denied an education

By Seth Tamarkin, Contributing Writer

The day before orientation this semester, a frightened student sent a long email to Admissions. “I don’t feel safe at home,” the email stated, noting how he felt his “only two options were death or jail” if he wasn’t accepted into school. UMass Dartmouth’s official response?

Sorry, but your admission is being revoked anyways.

The case began last summer when the student, whose name is withheld for confidentiality reasons, made a commitment to reforming his life after a history of gang affiliation left him unsure of his safety. With the help of a mentor, the student received his GED and applied to UMass Dartmouth.

The student detailed in his college essay his rough past but also a commitment for a better future. Ultimately, he was accepted and granted housing.

Things were looking up, but that all changed in September when he was shot fifteen times at his grandmother’s funeral. The ensuing time in critical condition made it so he could not attend the fall semester of 2017.

Following the incident, UMass Dartmouth moved to revoke his housing and put his admission under review. The school said they’d have a final verdict after he went to the Spring orientation, and soon afterwards, they informed him that his admission had been revoked altogether.

To gather awareness, a UMass Dartmouth student posted a synopsis on the UMD Black Market Facebook page and soon the student organization M.E.N. hosted the meeting as well.

M.E.N. found this case noteworthy for their organization since its focus is promoting Black excellence in a similar vein to the ancient Moors. After showing a brief timeline of events, M.E.N. had an open dialogue about the case and solutions for the future.

Starting off, everyone disagreed with the university’s decision to revoke his admission completely since taking away housing would have removed the perceived safety issue.

One student thought it was ridiculous that a public university, where “I see people coming in to walk dogs every morning” would revoke a student’s admission over concerns with someone entering the campus.

There was even a student who used to be in a gang, but never told the university, and was admitted and granted housing. “I had a 0.67 GPA when I left high school and now I have a 3.6,” the person said, showing a glimpse into what the student’s life could have been if his admission was not revoked.

A local entrepreneur at the meeting stated that they need to “think of the liability” if those shooters did seek revenge and ended up shooting someone else as collateral on campus. He continued, stressing that “the university still suffers from bad publicity because of the Boston Bomber’s actions.”

Instead of just criticizing, he believed that everyone should take it upon themselves to make sure other kids don’t go down that path.

“If given a chance, who might he be?” He began, “But who he is, is every single one of us so we all need to be an example of the change we want to see” such as becoming prosecutors themselves.

A student named LaLa also said, “How many of you are going to keep fighting for this student after you leave here today?” She also wondered why a prominent speaker hadn’t quit her job at the Admissions office if she was serious about the injustice.

Many thoughts were shared, but one area where everyone agreed was with fixing the broken criminal justice system that allowed this to happen in the first place.

A student went into detail about the vicious cycle that is the United States prison system. “That little box on an application that asks if you’re a felon seals your fate to many employers” she said.

Other students spoke passionately how citizens with criminal records are often denied jobs and housing, leading them to return to the very dangerous environment that prison was supposed to rehabilitate them from.

A man named Ed Norton, who works for Collegebound Now in Dorchester, Massachusetts talked about how their organization works to help inner-city kids go to college. He stressed that it was easier than one thinks to get involved in helping inner-city students, and asked people at the meeting to get involved.

Even when the room got heated, everyone could agree with Ed Norton’s statement afterwards, “Speaking for myself and two coworkers, we were pretty amazed at the amount of support, insight and energy shown by the students here in the room tonight, and especially the coordination and presentation by main presenters who really pinpointed the issues involved.”

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