DARTMOUTH — UMass Dartmouth students say a young man’s admission to the university has been revoked on the basis of a history with gangs that he was trying to leave behind.
“They failed this student,” said Destiny Miles, a junior. She led a speaking program Monday at a gathering at the UMD library titled, “A Dream Deferred: Why Did UMass Deny a Black Man an Education?”
Before the meeting, senior Nataki DeGaffenreid said the man was open with the university about his history with gangs, and that UMD admitted him for the fall of 2017.
But before he started school, he was shot, she said. His injuries were bad enough that he had to defer his enrollment until this semester.
DeGaffenreid said that during orientation for the spring semester, the intended student met with a UMD official, who told him he would not be allowed to live on campus. Within a few days, he received a letter saying his admission had been revoked altogether, she said.
UMass Dartmouth has declined to comment on the specifics of the case, citing the student’s right to privacy.
“We’re just not going to be engaged in a conversation about an admissions case about an individual student,” campus spokesman John Hoey said in an interview.
In an emailed statement, he said recent comments on social networks and elsewhere lack all of the relevant facts and context.
“Still, the university must respect student privacy and will not comment on individual admissions cases,” he said.
Hoey said that in general, admissions decisions are conditional until a student enrolls, and new information can alter those decisions. Admissions decisions reflect what the university believes to be in the best interests of its students, he said.
“UMass Dartmouth is very proud of its long history of providing educational opportunities that enable students to succeed," he said.
Miles and a second presenter, senior Jeremy Evans, encouraged the audience, which filled a small lecture hall, to focus not on the student in this case, but on the issues it raises.
A few students said campus events that draw a lot of black students tend to have metal detectors and more security than other events.
A junior, Markaveus Barnes, said he feels like campus security is lax because people from the general public can enter without explaining themselves at a guard house. He said people come to walk their dogs, but they could drive a tank onto the campus if they wanted.
In response to those two issues, Hoey said event security is based on the size of the event and whether it is expected to attract a large number of non-UMass Dartmouth students. The campus is public, with public roadways and buildings, he said.
UMD does restrict access to residence halls with a visitor sign-in process, and video surveillance monitors the campus 24-7, he said.
Other students expressed mixed feelings about the decision, saying they would like to see the young man get an education but were concerned about safety.
Ed Norton of College Bound Dorchester, speaking from the audience, said he was impressed with the students’ response to the situation.
“This is absolutely a civil rights issue in this country,” he said.
Miles said she wants to hear the university reflect, in public, on how it handled the situation.
“This school was built for the common man," she said.