Archive for Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Good follow-up

May 3, 2005

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Officials at both the University of Missouri and Kansas University have a responsibility to monitor situations in which the hot rivalry between the two schools may be getting out of hand.

It's good to see that officials at the University of Missouri are taking seriously a report that some Kansas University students were mistreated by MU's police chief.

A KU student who ended up being arrested following an incident prior to the MU-KU basketball game March 9 in Columbia was interviewed last week by a Missouri administrator who is investigating the situation. The administrator traveled to Lawrence to talk to several KU students who were involved.

According to the KU students, one of their group brought to the game and got permission to hang a banner poking fun at the basketball arena's name. No profanity was involved and in the big scheme of the KU-MU rivalry, its message seemed pretty harmless.

The MU police chief, however, decided to confiscate the sign. When one of the students objected, saying the sign belonged to them, he was ejected from the arena. When he bought another ticket and tried to re-enter the arena, he was arrested.

Although the police chief hasn't spoken out about the incident, MU officials apparently think the story of the KU students is credible enough to warrant investigation. One of the students said the administrator asked what he wanted from MU. He responded that he didn't want money, but a public apology seemed appropriate.

We agree. First, congratulations to the MU administration for not just dismissing this incident out of hand. If the KU students' story pans out, an apology is the least the university should do. For their own sake, to prevent similar incidents in the future, some disciplinary action against the police chief may also be advisable.

The hot rivalry between Missouri and Kansas fans is well-known. Much of the competition is good-natured, but occasionally the actions or rhetoric can cross the lines of fairness or good taste. Officials at both universities, as well as law enforcement personnel on both sides of the state line, should be focusing on trying to diffuse, rather than enflame, this rivalry.

If it's found that the MU police chief did otherwise -- and mistreated some KU students in the process -- MU officials should deal with the incident in a way that sends a clear message that the university doesn't condone such behavior and won't tolerate any repeat incidents. At the same time, KU officials should redouble their efforts to make sure visitors to KU athletic events will be treated in a proper manner.

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