Wednesday, November 14, 2012

FIRE UP Chips!

Okay, I admit it – I’m a tad unnerved.  That’s an understatement, actually.  I’m extremely appalled and disturbed.  As a Central Michigan alumni, teacher, and CMU educational technology graduate student, I think it is only natural to have a reaction to the charges brought against our former professor.  Since I first heard the news, so many emotions have passed through my body – denial, confusion, and anger – just to name a few.  I feel betrayed and I never even met the man in person; I absolutely cannot imagine how his family must feel. 
I began thinking.  How can a man, so educated and successful in his career, just sneak through the cracks for so long?  How can a 58-year-old man who has worked in education for several years only now screw up so badly?  Is it possible that he woke up one morning two-weeks-ago and just suddenly downloaded all of this inappropriate, graphic material? I.highly.doubt.it.
In document written by the Geneva, Illinois Police Department regarding Internet safety, characteristics of an online predator are college graduate, computer savvy, successful careers, and the list goes on.  If those are the characteristics of a predator, than whom can we trust? These monsters do not wear scary masks or hold signs that say, “Danger,” but instead look like everyone else.    This man taught teachers how to be better teachers.  He was a tenured professor in what many consider a prestigious teaching program and university.  
My feelings of betrayal, I admit, stem from my own selfish inadequacies.  Will the fallout of one man’s actions affect all of us?  By that, I mean, will a degree from CMU’s teaching program lose value and will students not want to attend CMU because of this negative publicity?  I can’t help but feel that my Master’s Degree will come a bit tarnished. 
After the Penn State scandal, reports showed in April 2012, 14 percent less students had committed to PSU than at the same time the previous year.  There is really no comparison between these two events; undoubtedly what happened at Penn State was way worse.  At least one man did sickening things and from there, a long chain of cover-ups and “turn-the-other-cheeks” happened.  From what I have read, all of CMU personnel acted in a professional manner regarding this.  Everyone had a strong sense of urgency and handled the situation appropriately; within hours of finding the evidence, this professor was suspended.
That is what I need to remember when I proudly hang my Central Michigan University degree in the frame.  This professor was only one man, and CMU is a university filled with excellent teachers.   I will not think of his action but only about the reaction of the CMU employees involved in this terrible incidence.  That, alone, is enough to make me proud to be a Chippewa.   

3 comments:

  1. I'm glad you spoke up! I have had similar feelings. I am proud to be apart of a school that doesn't turn the other way.

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  2. As a person who lives in Mt. Pleasant, I can say that this affected me greatly. I have had Bill Merrill for 2 or 3 other classes before this one. I have met him I have sat in a classroom with him and talked with him. This also affected me because as a special education teacher I worked with a person who was arrested during school one day on the same type of charges. I feel extremely bad for his family, they must be in absolute shock. I also feel badly for him as it has been revealed that he was abused as a child. It is unfortunate he was not able to get the help that he needed to overcome the abuse before it destroyed him.

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