Put yourself in the shoes of DePauw University officials and then ask yourself this question: Should a prospective student be accepted if he has been charged with a high-profile crime?
DePauw yesterday decided the answer is no, and indefinitely deferred the enrollment of Robert Kitzinger. Kitzinger is one of the four Carmel High School basketball team members charged with battery and criminal recklessness in connection with hazing incidents on a bus and in a locker room last winter.
The accusations, investigations and, finally, in March, the charges, made headlines for weeks. Kitzinger, whose father, Kirk Kitzinger, played for DePauw in the late ’70s, has been charged with four misdemeanors.
A DePauw statement said it was in the best interests of Kitzinger and other students to delay his enrollment because the allegations are up in the air. The university will reconsider his enrollment after the criminal and civil cases are resolved, the statement said. Ken Owen, DePauw’s executive director of media relations, refused further comment.
In other words, DePauw had to weigh respect for due process and Kitzinger’s presumed innocence against the almost-certain circus on campus. Imagine the school paper covering the trial blow-by-blow.
Legal liability is another wild card. Every campus has its share of students with potential to stir controversy, but would DePauw have stuck its neck out by allowing Kitzinger on campus? What if he joined a fraternity and a hazing accusation erupted? Even if Kitzinger were nowhere near the incident, the cloud would be thicker.
What are your thoughts? Could Kitzinger have assimilated into campus life? Did the officials make the right call?