The Ku Klux Klan terrorized Catholic universities in the 1920s. But somehow, we forgot. Professor William Vance Trollinger Jr. uncovers stories of great courage in a struggle to define who is an American.
The University of Dayton served as the headquarters of Catholic subversion in southwest Ohio.
That’s how the Klan saw it.
In the years between 1923 and 1926, the Dayton chapter of the Ku Klux Klan — which had at least 15,000 members — devoted much of its energies to harassing the University of Dayton by burning of crosses.
A UD student in the 1920s, Jack Brown later recalled, “it [was] their joy and delight to come out on the campus and burn a cross or two.” But the students did not passively accept the Klan’s harassment. They fought back. As a student at the campus high school later reported, on more than one occasion he and some of his peers raced out of class to chase the Klansmen away, all the while calling on the cowards to “show their faces.”
The Klan responded to such defeats by lighting crosses in Woodland Cemetery across from the University, as the cemetery fence gave the Klansmen some protection from enraged students. But even there the Klansmen were not safe. On one occasion UD football coach Harry Baujan learned that the Klan was en route. So Baujan, as he recalled a half century later, went “to the halls and called out all my big football players.” Gathering them near the cemetery, he instructed the players to wait until the Klansmen got “around that cross.” Once the cross was ablaze, he exhorted his players to “take off after them” and “tear their shirts off” or “anything else, whatever you want to do.” But the Klansmen saw them coming; Baujan lamented, “we never got near any of them,” as “they went … so fast through that cemetery.”
I think this is a great story of courage in the face of terrorism. But you will not find it in any official UD history. There are more stories of student resistance to Ku Klux Klan harassment at other Catholic universities, but most of those stories are also not included in the official histories. As a historian I have a responsibility to uncover such stories and retell them. In doing so we can better understand the struggle to define who is an American and the struggle to secure a university education — struggles which did not end with the cross burnings of the 1920s.
RESURGENCE OF THE KLAN
While for many the decade after World War I is best known as the “Roaring Twenties,” these were also the years of the anti-Communist Red Scare, Sacco and Vanzetti, the Scopes Trial, and the Ku Klux Klan. Having virtually disappeared in the late 19th century, the Klan was reorganized in Georgia in 1915 and exploded into national prominence in the early 1920s.
While the original Klan concentrated its animus against the newly freed slaves and their Republican Party supporters, this “second” Klan had an expanded list of social scapegoats that included Catholics, Jews and immigrants. Moreover, while the first Klan was based primarily in the South, this Klan had its greatest numerical strength in the Midwest and West. Indiana was the site of the Klan’s greatest achievements, but Ohio may have had more members than any state in the Union; as David Chalmers — who estimated Klan membership in Ohio as 400,000 at its peak — observed in Hooded Americanism, “there was a time during the 1920s when it seemed that mask and hood had become the official symbol of the Buckeye State.”
This certainly fit Dayton. Having recovered from a disastrous flood in 1913 that killed hundreds, in the early 1920s Dayton was a thriving industrial city of more than 150,000 residents and such going concerns as Delco and National Cash Register. Dayton’s factories attracted immigrant laborers; according to the 1920 Census, 28 percent of the populace was either foreign-born or of foreign parentage. Eighty percent of the foreign-born Daytonians were from central, eastern and southern Europe, particularly (in descending order) Germans, Hungarians, Russians, Poles, Austrians, Italians, Slavs, Greeks, Lithuanians, Czechs and Romanians. Such immigration patterns meant a strong Catholic presence in Dayton. According to the 1926 Religious Census, 35 percent of reported churchgoers were Catholic, with almost all the rest Protestant. According to Chalmers, this was the perfect setting for the Second Ku Klux Klan: a majority of native-born residents, but with a substantial minority of non-Protestant immigrants.
With at least 10 percent of the city’s population as members of the Ku Klux Klan, Dayton joined Indianapolis; Portland, Ore.; Youngstown, Ohio; Denver; and Dallas as “the hooded capitals of the nation.” And these Klansmen and Klanswomen were determined to make the Klan’s presence felt. Newspaper articles and oral interviews suggest a Dayton illumined by burning crosses in the mid-1920s.
Perhaps the biggest night of cross burning came on May 6, 1924, when the local Klan celebrated the 58th anniversary of the KKK’s founding. The Dayton Daily News reported Klansmen burned a “30-foot cross … in each of the four districts of the city,” attracting supportive crowds of “several hundred persons” to each site.
While only a small percentage of cross burnings in Dayton found their way into newspaper and Klan reports, oral interviews with Catholics who lived in the 1920s help fill out the story. One woman who was a teenager in the Klan’s peak years admitted that she is still spooked by the memory of “crosses burning almost every night” near her home. One resident of Dayton in those years recalled that the “threat of Klan violence was always there … [this was] the big threat in the Catholic mind: what [the Klan] could do to us.”
The Society of Mary, a Catholic order of brothers and priests, founded St. Mary’s School for Boys in Dayton in 1850. Renamed the University of Dayton in 1920, the school by 1923 had 280 full-time undergraduates (85 percent of whom were Catholic), 36 law students and 174 students who took night classes, not to mention the 560 students who attended the high school on campus. A contributor to a locally published KKK newspaper asserted that the University “stands like a giant fortress upon a high hill overlooking the surrounding country,” with a ROTC program that had been established for the purpose of training a Catholic army to fight religious wars against American Protestants.
On Sept. 21, 1923, the Dayton Ku Klux Klan held perhaps its largest rally, including a 3-mile march down Main Street (its sidewalks packed with cheering spectators) and a “naturalization ceremony” for prospective Klansmen at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds. Fifteen thousand Klansmen formed a ring around 7,000 kneeling initiates, while 10,000 spectators filled the stands. The ceremony included prayers, songs and the oath taken by the Klansmen-to-be affirming their “pure American nationality” (that they were white and they were Protestant). Then, celebration.
It would have been very difficult for the students and staff on the campus just down the road not to hear the cheering and singing of an estimated 32,000 white Dayton Protestants, not to feel the tremors of bombs being set off, not to see the Klan airplane (with a cross illuminated with red electric lights) circling the Fairgrounds, not to see the fireworks exploding in the sky, not to see the 100-foot burning cross.
BOMBS IN THE NIGHT
This rally seemed to embolden the Dayton Klan in its campaign against UD. The autumn of 1923 saw more cross burnings on or near University property. In early December the Klan planted a cross on campus and set it afire; as the Dayton Daily News later reported, this incident “terminated in a clash between a group of students and the alleged klansmen [sic], [who] were outnumbered by the students,” and who ran off into the night “before identification could be made.” It was an embarrassing failure for the forces of militant Protestantism and may have motivated the Klansmen to up the ante in their next attack.
Wednesday, Dec. 19, 1923, was the first day of Christmas break at the University of Dayton. By the time evening had arrived fewer than 40 students remained on campus. At 10:30 the calm was shattered. Students leaped out of their beds and ran out into the night as 12 bombs exploded throughout campus, all at some distance from University buildings. No one sustained serious injuries and the property damage was minimal; it could have been much worse, given that at least one bomb went off near campus buildings that stored guns and ammunition for the university’s ROTC program.
But what caught the eyes of the frightened students shivering in the cold was a blazing 8-foot, burlap-wrapped, oil-soaked cross on the west edge of campus. As the UD students ran toward the cross in order to tear it down, they discovered the perpetrators waiting for them. As reported by the Dayton Daily News, several hundred Klansmen had filled 40 to 50 cars, which they very slowly drove in single file “past the blazing emblem,” all the while issuing “a volley of threats” to the badly outnumbered students. But the tables soon turned. Angry at losing their sleep, hunderds of neighbors charged the hooded intruders, yelling their own “menacing threats” as they approached the line of cars in front of the blazing cross. The alarmed Klansmen hit the gas and sped off into the night. Faculty and students, along with the University vice president, “hastened to the cross and battered it to the ground.”
In the bombing’s aftermath, local residents vented their frustrations to the press, complaining that “they ha[d] made repeated remonstrances to the police in regard to the demonstrations at the university,” but to no avail. There were rumors that the police department was filled with Klansmen. The UD administration, however, had also worked to keep city authorities from responding to the disturbances; as Vice President Father Francis Kunnecke, S.M. ’06, admitted after the bombings, the University’s plan had been “to cope with the situation without seeking the aid of the police.”
But the “brazenness” of the Dec. 19 attack led Kunnecke to assert that these “demonstrations directed upon the university were unjustified and unlawful,” and thus the University would “do everything in its power to force prosecution.” When Dayton police detectives reported (after a one-day investigation) that they “were unsuccessful … in finding clews [sic] which would reveal the identity of the invaders,” President Father Bernard O’Reilly, S.M., responded by publicly expressing his frustration with the history of Klan attacks on the University, attacks that “forced the students to lose sleep, which greatly handicapped them in their studies.” He met with “city officials … and asked that immediate action be taken to discover the identity of the alleged klan [sic] members.”
The Dec. 19, 1923, incident was the high point of Ku Klux Klan harassment of the University of Dayton. There were no more bombings. But it does not appear that the Dayton Police Department ever identified the bombers, much less brought them to justice. Moreover, the Klan continued to burn crosses on and near campus, and held more large rallies at the fairgrounds. It was not until the late 1920s, when the Ohio Klan entered a precipitous decline, that the University of Dayton could begin to consider itself safe from terror administered by “100% Americans.”
In spring 1996, I was hired as an associate professor of history at the University of Dayton. That summer, Provost Father James Heft, S.M. ’66, asked me to write a brief article on some aspect of Dayton’s religious history, to be distributed to those attending an interfaith Thanksgiving celebration sponsored by the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
I knew nothing about Dayton’s religious history, but I did know that the Second Ku Klux Klan had been strong in Ohio. That fall I turned my undergraduate American religious history class — which had just four students: Erin Flory Camargo ’98, John Jauch ’97, John Nally ’96 and David Yarosz ’96 — into a research seminar on religion and religious conflict in Dayton in the 1920s. The secondary literature on the Ohio Klan was minimal, and there was virtually nothing on the Dayton Klan. But their careful reading of the Dayton Daily News showed that the Klan had been very active in Dayton, and that the University of Dayton had been a target of Klan wrath. Students interviewed Marianists who had been on campus as students in the 1920s, as well as Catholic laypeople who had resided in Dayton in those years. From our two months of intensive research I wrote — with my students as secondary co-authors — a very short pamphlet, “Toward a Tolerant and Inclusive Community,” which was distributed at the interfaith celebration.
What surprised me most was that virtually no one I talked with at UD knew that the University had been the target of Ku Klux Klan harassment, much less knew that the school had been bombed in 1923. There is no mention of Klan harassment in institutional histories written in 1937 (just 14 years after the bombing) or in 2000 for the University’s 150th anniversary. And the oral history of the attacks seems not to have made it from one generation of students to the next; in response to my paper on this topic at the 2011 American Catholic Historical Association meeting, Philip Gleason ’51 commented that never in his time as a University of Dayton student (nor in the six decades since graduation) had he heard a word about the Ku Klux Klan’s attacks.
To underscore this point, I return to the story of coach Baujan and his football players chasing the Ku Klux Klan away from campus. The story becomes more dramatic when one realizes Harry Baujan’s place in University of Dayton athletic lore. Having played for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame and for the Cleveland Tigers/Indians in the nascent National Football League, Baujan came to UD in 1922 as an assistant coach, taking over as head coach in 1923. Over the next few decades he created a stellar football program; not only does the UD soccer field (which had been the football field) bear his name, but in 1990 he was posthumously inducted as a coach into the College Football Hall of Fame.
For all of Baujan’s renown, I had heard nothing about his team’s encounter with the Klan until the summer of 2011 when I visited the University archives. The archivist on duty mentioned in passing that there was an unsubstantiated rumor that UD football players had confronted Klansmen. With this rumor in mind, I discovered the story in a transcript from a 1974 oral history interview with Harry Baujan and one of his players. Five decades had likely muddied some facts, but it seems almost certain that sometime in the mid-1920s the University of Dayton football team — prompted by its legendary head coach — confronted cross-burning Klansmen and sent them running.
How and why does an institution “forget” an exciting, even heroic, story such as this? Clues go back to July 1920, when the board of trustees voted to change the name from St. Mary’s College to the University of Dayton, a decision that obscured the school’s Catholic identity while publicly linking the school to its home city. While I have not been able to locate records of the board’s deliberations, in October 1920 President Father Joseph Tetzlaff, S.M. ’05, published an article in the University of Dayton Exponent explaining the board’s decision. Tetzlaff provided three reasons for the name change, the second of which focused on how the term “university” better fit the “scope” of academic work being done at the institution.
But the first and third reasons had to do with the city itself. Tetzlaff began with the confusing assertion that making the change from St. Mary’s College to University of Dayton would “bring home to the City of Dayton” the “work of premier order accomplished” at the school “in the domain of cultural and technical education”; this statement suggested that naming the school for its home city would induce Daytonians to have pride in their local university, thus implying that city residents had not felt such pride about St. Mary’s College. Tetzlaff’s third reason for the name change was equally ambiguous: “To do honor to the City of Dayton, which has always entertained a kindly interest in its principal school. … We entertain the fondest hopes that the citizens of this progressive community will make permanent this sympathetic attitude” by providing “their further moral and material support.” If the city had truly maintained “a kindly interest” in the school since its 1850 founding, why the concern that Daytonians “make permanent” their “sympathetic attitude”?
Perhaps the most that can be said for Tetzlaff’s ambiguous explanation is that it was aspirational. But in the next few years a significant percentage of native-born Daytonians joined or supported the local Ku Klux Klan chapter, which had as one of its primary and ongoing activities a harassment campaign directed against Dayton’s “principal school.”
Still, UD’s administration stayed quiet, perhaps grasping at their “fondest hopes” for the University’s relationship with the city. Then came the December 1923 bombing. Silence was no longer an option. But in breaking the silence it is telling what the administration said. Both President O’Reilly (who had become president that year) and Vice President Kunnecke focused their comments on the threat to the ROTC arsenal on campus; because the Klan was now threatening the property of the United States, its attacks on the University must be stopped. It does not appear there was one public comment from either administrator about the Klan’s anti-Catholicism, or about how Catholics in Dayton and Dayton’s Catholic university were weary of being harassed. To the contrary, the vice president went out of his way to downplay the school’s Catholic identity, observing not only that “students of all denominations attend” the University (thus eliding the fact that 85 percent of UD undergraduates were Catholic), but that this interdenominational “student body” has made “a universal remonstrance … against the picturesque demonstrations that have been staged” on campus.
One plausible reading of the University of Dayton’s almost instantaneous institutional amnesia regarding the Ku Klux Klan harassment and attacks is that there was some sense of shame that a large portion of the community in which they resided and in whose name they had titled the University did not understand UD as truly American. The faster all of this could be forgotten, the better.
What happened and then was forgotten at the University of Dayton leads to questions about the Klan and other Catholic universities, which numbered 69 in 1926, according to the Catholic Education Association.
In Contending with Modernity: Catholic Higher Education in the Twentieth Century, Philip Gleason relates the famous story of the confrontation between University of Notre Dame students and the Ku Klux Klan. As Gleason observes, in May 1924 university students “broke up a regional rally and parade in South Bend,” an attack followed two days later by a student march “on the local Klan headquarters in response to rumors that one of their number was being mistreated there.” Thanks to “the calming effect of an emotional appeal by Notre Dame president [Father] Matthew J. Walsh,” the students were “persuaded … to return to campus before the second episode got completely out of hand.”
UD and Notre Dame were surely not the only Catholic schools to encounter the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. What do institutional histories say — or not say — about such encounters, and what does it tell us?
To answer these questions, I focused on Catholic colleges and universities in nine northern and western states where the Ku Klux Klan was particularly active in the 1920s: Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. I located 23 institutional histories of 17 Catholic universities and colleges in these states. Nine of these histories make reference to Ku Klux Klan activities near or related to the university, but none of these histories make any mention of Klan activities on campus.
For example, in his history of Xavier University, Roger Fortin tells the story of 1928 Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate Myers Cooper, whose “association with St. Xavier College and its Catholic identity” — Cooper had led the fundraising campaign for Xavier’s football stadium — provided fodder for attacks by his Democratic opponent at a time when the Ku Klux Klan was organizing hate campaigns in Cincinnati.
Detroit was also a center of Klan activity in the 1920s. In his 1977 centennial history of the University of Detroit, Herman Muller relates the story that every Saturday evening in the summer of 1925 Klansmen drove by Gesu Chapel, a church the Jesuits had been “empowered to build” very close to the new campus site of the university. According to a Catholic resident who lived nearby, the University president, Father John McNichols, S.J., “call[ed] for me and my uncle, who was a deputy sheriff,” to protect the church: “My uncle had a double-barrelled shotgun and I had a pump gun. One of us stayed in front and one in back. Father Mac did not want them to burn down the church.”
The story is similar in John Stranges’ 2006 history of Niagara University, The Rainbow Never Fades. Stranges observes that a gathering of some 5,000 hooded delegates shocked “the Catholics of western New York”; Niagara students interpreted the Klansmen as a “demoralizing blemish” or, more hopefully, a “monster reptile doomed inevitably to extinction.” But in The Rainbow Never Fades — as in the histories of Xavier and Detroit — there is no reference to Klan attacks on or harassment of Niagara University.
The Ku Klux Klan receives more attention in James Covert’s history of the University of Portland, A Point of Pride, but it is only in the context of Oregon’s infamous Compulsory Education Bill. As Covert notes, the “Ku Klux Klan … was a motivating force” for this ballot initiative, which made it illegal for “any parent [or] guardian” to “fail or neglect or refuse to send [their] child to a public school,” and which was passed by Oregon voters in November 1922. Covert observes that the University of Portland (known as Columbia University until 1935) not only supported the legal campaign to have this decision ruled unconstitutional — which the Supreme Court did in 1924 — but the lead attorneys in this legal effort were “all formerly connected” with the university. But again, no reference to the Klan on campus.
In their 1953 and 2007 histories of Marquette University, both Raphael Hamilton and Thomas Jablonsky report that the local Klan chapter was prominently involved in the successful campaign to persuade the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors to reject a proposal to sell a square block of county-owned property to the university for purposes of building a health complex. What’s curious here is that this only mention of the Klan’s political intervention took place in 1927, at the very time when the Milwaukee chapter of the Klan was, as David Chalmers observes, rapidly splintering into irrelevance. In the mid-1920s, when the Klan was stronger, was it harassing Marquette students?
Finally, there is Denver’s Regis University. The Klan was a dominant force in Colorado politics in the early 1920s, including the election of a Ku Klux Klan executive committeeman as state governor. In keeping with the other university histories, the two institutional histories of Regis are silent about cross burnings on campus. But in his 1955 study of Catholic education in Colorado, William Jones notes that on April 1, 1924, “a large cross was placed on the campus near Carroll Hall and ignited before the faculty or students were aware of the incident.” In his 1989 work, Colorado Catholicism, Thomas Noel also reports this incident, but he gives a different twist on the Regis response: “According to [one source], ‘the Jesuits held the boys back inside or they would have torn those Kluxers apart.’”
One more point about Regis. In April 1921, the trustees changed the college’s name from Sacred Heart to Regis. Institutional histories report that school officials were unhappy with how many schools in America were named “Sacred Heart,” and they were concerned (to quote Ronald Brockway) “about the profane use of a clearly sacred name in sports yells emanating from frenzied fans” as well as unhappiness with students corrupting the school’s initials (S.H.C.) “into the unflattering nickname of ‘the Shack.’” Interestingly, in his unpublished 1997 piece entitled “The ‘Regis’ of Regis University,” John Callahan takes a different tack, arguing that another reason for the name change was that Sacred Heart “provided a clear target for the Ku Klux Klan, which was growing quite powerful in Colorado.” A less obviously Catholic name would provide cover, and “Regis” was “chosen because John Francis Regis was a Jesuit saint who worked in the mountains. Simple as that.”
STORY OF COURAGE
The confusion as to why Sacred Heart College became Regis College in 1921 is indicative of the larger point that there is much we do not know about the Ku Klux Klan and Catholic higher education in the 1920s. We can say definitively that Notre Dame was not the only Catholic institution of higher education that had direct encounters with the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan harassed and attacked both the University of Dayton and Regis College, and it may very well have harassed and attacked other Catholic universities. Moreover, and as with Notre Dame, UD and perhaps Regis, students were not passive victims; instead, they responded aggressively to the Klan attacks, more aggressively than did their school’s administrators.
As I told students at the August 2013 academic convocation, in chasing off the Klansmen UD students were saying, “we are true Americans.” But they were saying more than this. They were also making clear that while the Klan could hold gigantic rallies two blocks away, light crosses on campus and even explode bombs, the Klan was not going to keep these students from a university education, from a University of Dayton education. It was too precious.
This gift of a university education was precious in 1923; it is precious today. Of course, and as I also said to the students at convocation, UD students today don’t have to deal with Klansmen lighting crosses and exploding bombs. But there are still obstacles to overcome. Those obstacles include the fact that we live in a culture that repeatedly tells all of us that thinking about ideas is a waste of time, that seeing the world in simple terms is better than seeing it in its complexity, that seeking beauty and justice and truth is a frivolous quest, that understanding the “other” is irrelevant.
As in 1923, then, there are challenges to securing a university education. So it behooves us here at UD to remember our history, to remember the time when — just 90 years ago — UD students tore down burning crosses and the UD football team chased the Klan away from campus. Forgetting history is never good, and in this instance the UD community has a story of determination and courage to draw upon. So we should.
William Vance Trollinger Jr. is professor of history in UD’s history and religious studies departments and director of the CORE program. He and his wife, Susan Trollinger of UD’s English department, are writing a book on young earth creationism to be published by Johns Hopkins University Press. This article is an abridged and revised version of an article that appeared in the spring 2013 issue of American Catholic Studies: “Hearing the Silence: The University of Dayton, the Ku Klux Klan, and Catholic Universities and Colleges in the 1920s.”No Comments
Pay attention. That’s what jurors promise to do. But what happens to justice when social media provides more compelling evidence?
@JurorNo1: Here we go again. #ihatejuryduty
@JurorNo2: He’s obviously guilty. Wish we could go home.
@JurorNo1: Guilty? With that @justinbieber hair? His barber even started a “Free Willy” Facebook page.
@JurorNo2: LOL #weallhatejuryduty
Imagine this Twitter exchange happening in the jury box during a trial.
Now imagine you’re the defendant and your future depends on the jurors paying attention to the evidence you believe will exonerate you.
But while you’re sitting at the defense table, palms slick with sweat, knees trembling, nervously tapping your foot like Ringo Starr on the drums because you know if you’re found guilty you’re going to prison, maybe for a very long time, the jurors are busy Tweeting and texting and updating their Facebook pages with details about you, your alleged crime, your bad haircut and the awful way your plaid pants clash with your striped shirt.
It could happen.
It has happened.
“Oh yes, it’s happened,” says University of Dayton law professor Thaddeus Hoffmeister. “It’s already been done in the box, in the jury box itself, unfortunately.”
The telltale sign?
“The juror’s head was down all the time,” Hoffmeister says.
If you’re surprised, you shouldn’t be.
Social media is as ubiquitous as naked photos of Anthony Weiner. No matter where you go or where you are — the movies, church, even the urinal — you can find someone texting, Tweeting, Instagraming, Tumblring, Digging, emailing, Facebooking, Amazoning, eBaying or just searching for information on Wikipedia about Miley Cyrus twerking. It has changed the way we work, the way we interact, the way we live.
The difference of course is that, mostly, someone’s life isn’t on the line.
When jurors are sworn in for duty they tacitly agree to listen to all the evidence presented to them when they swear to judge as fairly and impartially as possible. The concern is that all the distractions and, worse, the almost instantaneous ability to gather “facts” not in evidence, compromise a defendant’s ability to get a just and unbiased trial.
“I worry about that, yes definitely,” says Montgomery County [Ohio] Common Pleas Judge Timothy O’Connell ’77.
O’Connell, a 1980 graduate of the UD School of Law, leans back in a leather chair in his cluttered fourth-floor office in the Montgomery County Courthouse, his fingers tented as if in prayer, his brow furrowed as he contemplates the question of jurors going outside the boundaries of the courtroom to gather information they shouldn’t have.
“There have been cases reported where convictions have been reversed, new trials ordered and even dismissals of charges in some instances because of the use of information that wasn’t presented in the courtroom,” he says.
Attorney Jon Paul Rion ’96 remembers a civil case in Dayton that was settled in favor of his client just before closing arguments.
“We spoke to the jury afterwards, before they were discharged, and they’d read all about the case, knew what the judgments were, knew all the information,” Rion says. “It was unbelievable the amount of information they had that was not presented in the courtroom. And they openly admitted about getting the information about the case while the case was ongoing. We were shocked, one, not only by the openness but, two, the amount of information they felt they needed to do their job correctly.
“Clearly when you have information like that coming in through the back door, it’s of great concern. It’s impossible to monitor.”
Therein lies the rub. We live in an instantaneous world. We can connect to each other as well as to huge stores of information in the blink of an eye. Or more precisely, the flick of a finger. We now have the ability to check a defendant’s background, his or her prior record, and read personal comments about the person that may or may not be true. We can go to Google Earth to view crime scenes, check out lawyers, judges, witnesses and fellow jurors, “Friend” the victim, the defendant, their families and friends, and leak details to the public that are supposed to remain confidential.
“I particularly worry about jurors who can fairly easily go online … and go into the clerk’s records and find out about prior charges and prior convictions of the defendant,” O’Connell says.
Hoffmeister, who writes a blog about juries (juries.typepad.com), points to a sexual assault case in Louisville, Ky., where the victim, unhappy with the sentence of the two juveniles convicted of attacking her, went online and named them, even though the court kept their identities sealed.
“She said something to the extent of, if this is all that reporting a rape got me, then I’m mad I reported it,” Hoffmeister says of her reasoning. “There’s a lot of things going on with that particular case, such as can we keep legal proceedings quiet in the age of social media? It’s very hard. There are so many different ways you can get information out to people, courts are going to struggle with that.”
Twitter, Facebook and the like have turned ordinary citizens into what Hoffmeister calls “social media vigilantes.”
In 2009, for instance, an American couple visiting the Bahamas decided they wanted an exotic meal … of endangered iguanas. Like all good Facebookers, they felt the need to document their feast and posted pictures of themselves “cleaning the iguanas, and barbecuing the iguanas, and grilling the iguanas,” Hoffmeister says.
“Somebody saw the pictures on their Facebook page and called the authorities down in the Bahamas and these people were arrested. All because of people watching and seeing what was on somebody’s Facebook page. There’s so many different ways that social media is now impacting criminal law.”
Two years ago, Hoffmeister, who joined the UD law faculty in 2007, didn’t consider Twitter as something viable.
“I thought, 140 characters, how does this work?” he says.
Now he teaches a class on social media and the law and, in early 2014, will have a book, Social Media in the Courtroom: A New Era for Criminal Justice, published by Praeger.
Sitting in his cramped office in the lowest level of Joseph E. Keller Hall, Hoffmeister, dressed in khaki pants, a blue checked shirt and sandals, is practically giddy while talking about the impact of social media on the judicial system. Words spew from his mouth faster than the Twitterverse reaction to Ben Affleck as the Batman.
After it occured to him that almost all his jury blog posts were about the effects of social media on jurors, Hoffmeister began to look at the entire judicial system.
“How are the criminals using (social media)?” he asks. “How are the attorneys using it? How is law enforcement using it? How do judges use it? How do we get it admitted into evidence? How do we get your Facebook page where you either contradicted the statement you made earlier or you foolishly posted a picture with you standing there with the stolen property admitted against you?”
And, as the man who consulted on the jury instructions for U.S. v. Barry Bonds, he understands the fears of a defendant about getting a fair trial.
“They have a valid argument,” Hoffmeister says.
Highly publicized cases such as that of Jodi Arias, who was convicted of brutally murdering her ex-boyfriend, make it virtually impossible to sit an unbiased jury, he says.
In a story about the penalty phase of Arias’ trial, CNN quoted jury consultant Richard Gabriel as saying, “(Social media is) incredibly powerful because it is a juror interacting in their natural environment. It’s them unedited, uncensored and not trying to couch things in way that’s politically correct. So you have a candid view of the juror, and it allows you to see how they view the world and how they express themselves.”
To his point, an alternate juror allegedly ignored instructions by the judge and posted on Facebook something about Arias’ temper.
“If (Arias) does have Latina blood, it may explain a temper lol,” the juror wrote.
Jurors aren’t the only ones with smartphones, of course. Judges and lawyers can also abuse technology — and get in trouble.
Says UD law professor Denise Platfoot Lacey, “Oftentimes it’s personal social media abuses that have gotten them disciplined. For instance, a lawyer asks for a continuance because he’s got too heavy a workload and then posts on social media that they’re really hungover because they were out too late the night before.”
Lacey served for two years as the secretary to the Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism for the Supreme Court of Ohio, investigating complaints against lawyers and judges. Social media now adds more challenges.
“Lawyers and judges have taken an oath to be a part of the system that will be fair and impartial, ” she says. “If there are abuses, people see this and they wonder about the officers of the court to whom we’ve entrusted the system.”
So what can be done about it? Can anything be done about it? As Hoffmeister says, the court system “changes at a glacial pace.”
One thing judges can do is change their instructions to juries — something O’Connell has done — cautioning them to not speak or use social media to communicate with anyone about the case. The Ohio State Bar Association amended its recommendations on jury instructions in 2010 to include just such a social media clause.
But, says Hoffmeister, expecting a juror to keep quiet about a case has never been practical — or realistic.
“I never believed that people went home after jury duty and didn’t talk to their wife or their husband about it,” he says. “You’re kidding yourself if you believe that. I think people always went home to their spouses, they talked about the case, and their spouses responded by saying, ‘Oh, I think he’s guilty’ or ‘not guilty.’ I just think it’s at a higher level now where you can reach out and talk to people outside your immediate vicinity.”
Judges could also confiscate any device — phone, tablet — that could connect a juror to the Internet, or consider something as drastic as sequestration.
Neither is entirely effective.
Sequestration, Hoffmeister and O’Connell agree, is expensive and an invitation for jurors to lie their way out of service.
“It turns people off,” Hoffmeister says.
Meanwhile, seizing phones and tablets could send some jurors into jittery fits.
“I’ve read some stories,” Hoffmeister says, “that say the Internet can be addictive. When you get an email it releases endorphins in your mind. It’s a pleasant sensation to you.”
For some, it’s a sensation they can’t live without. Last fall, the Behavioral Health Medical Center in Bradford, Pa., rolled out a 10-day inpatient program to help users kick their Internet habit. It may not be the same as asking a junkie to quit popping pills, but it’s an acknowledgement that some people just can’t give up their smartphones and tablets without help.
There are more extreme measures for judges, of course, such as sending jurors who violate the social media instructions to the slammer.
“That would be the last solution,” Hoffmeister says. “We in this country don’t punish like they do in England and other common law countries. In England, I’ve seen them give someone six months, which I thought was outrageous, for violating the rules. In England they hammer the jurors. In this country, we don’t hammer jurors.”
O’Connell agrees that sentencing jurors to jail time would be onerous.
“We always try to do the least invasive thing,” he says. “We’re always walking on eggshells now about making things convenient and easy and pleasant, if you will, for jurors.”
Pleasant for jurors, maybe, but not so much for defendants who must not only face the judgment of their peers but also hundreds, sometimes thousands, of anonymous “friends.”
“I know one case,” Hoffmeister says, “where a woman juror in a sexual assault trial took a Facebook poll and said, ‘OK, what do you Facebookers think I should do?’”
Scary, yes, but not the end of the world — or our justice system — says attorney Rion.
“For the most part, I believe jurors, citizens, try to be fair,” he says. “Examples to the contrary are always there, but I think you can rely on the jurors of this county, or any county, to at least try to be fair. Whether that translates into perfection, it never does, but it seems like people are well-intended in our judicial system and there is a great pride people have of it.
“Due to the extent that we have to be careful and watchful of (social media), I agree completely. But it’s not as if we’re in a situation where we need to scrap the jury system and start over. It’s still the best mechanism for justice that we could possibly have.”
Curbing the social media vigilantes
Can there ever be uniform instructions to juries about the dos and don’ts of social media? University of Dayton law professor Thaddeus Hoffmeister doesn’t think so.
“From state to state and county to county, things are different,” he says. “There are just so many jurisdictions, I don’t see how we could come up with a set of standards that everyone could use. There are some approaches you can use, but there is no surefire method.”
Among those approaches:
Better jury instructions. “Ask them if they can do without their phones for days or weeks. If they can’t, excuse them. And tell them why it’s important they don’t use social media. Juries need to know why they shouldn’t be using their phones.”
Attorneys and judges should set an example. “If the judge is using his phone and the attorneys are using their phones, jurors logically ask, ‘Why can’t I use my phone?’”
Use the juror oath to promise to hear the testimony fairly. “I do believe people take that seriously.”
Offer rewards for good behavior. “In one case, the judge promised to keep a journal for every juror with every story written about the case if they stayed off their phones.”
Allow the jurors to ask questions. “If there’s an accident scene and you’re not going to take us there, or you’re going to use legal terms I don’t understand, well, you could get away with that 20 years ago because I wasn’t going to go to the library and look up ‘reasonable doubt’ or ‘respondeat superior.’ Now, I can just ask Siri and she’ll tell me what that means. So let them ask their own questions.”
Even though the standards for social media in the judicial system can’t be consistent, he does say things need to change if courts want jurors to be fair and impartial.
“The law doesn’t want to change,” he says. “The law says we’re going to change at a glacial pace. We are in charge. The judge and the lawyers say, we’ll tell you what you need to know. No, technology is going to force you to change and, in my opinion, it’s empowering jurors.
“I think the rules of evidence, as they are, are too restrictive. I think juries should see more. I think they should see more evidence. I don’t know how much more or where to draw the line. But I think they should see more and I think they will see more because, if we don’t give it to them, they’ll find it themselves.”
Gene Williams is a freelance writer who misses the day when letters were written by hand, calls were made from phones attached to the wall and movies were never interrupted by smartphones too dumb to stay dim in a darkened theater.No Comments
The most famous catacombs in the world are in Paris, but UD alumni don’t have to travel halfway around the world to experience a set of intertwining tunnels with a rich history. They just need to meet up with UD’s
Indianapolis alumni chapter.
“The chapter meets six to 10 times, annually,” said Melissa Weseli ’04, chapter president, who listed activities like gamewatches and Christmas off Campus as popular offerings. “We host at least five main events each year.”
The chapter focuses on lifelong learning, culture, art, student outreach, spiritual growth, networking and service. The nearly 1,400 members provide a vast selection of activities to enjoy in the Hoosier state, but it’s what the Indianapolis chapter chose as its cultural event last spring that caught the attention of several other chapters.
“In my job at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown, I had heard about the City Market catacomb tours as a fun thing to do while visiting the city. I thought our local alumni would enjoy it, too,” Weseli said.
The tunnels that rest below the traffic and hubbub in Indiana’s capital city were constructed more than a hundred years ago. Instead of housing the dead, these tunnels were used to transport and store meats and produce sold at the City Market before the days of refrigeration. More than a century has passed, yet the limestone and brick archways are still intact and apt for exploring.
“We were able to partner with Indiana Landmarks, a fantastic organization that hosts this public historical tour along with the others in the state,” Weseli said. “The 30-minute tour was on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of June, taking us underground to see all the remains of a historical plaza that was destroyed by a fire in the 1950s.”
The catacombs were a nice place to cool down during the hot summer day, with a wide range of alumni participating.
“Most of us had never explored that part of our city, including me,” Weseli said. “We will definitely do something like that again in 2014.”
While UD alumni make a home in Indianapolis, they aren’t just staying for the Indy 500 and Hoosier pride, but a slice of history that lies just below their feet.
How can you have lots of fun, for little cash, in Indy?
“St. Joan of Arc French Market, the first Saturday after Labor Day. It’s free and always has a UD vs. Notre Dame volunteer challenge going.”
—James Seidel ’70 and Molly Pritchard Seidel ’71
“Visiting the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is one of my favorite things in Indy and one of the best values around. For just a small additional fee you can take the bus tour around the grounds of the track.”
—King Doxsee ’90
“Tailgating at the Hurst Beanery before a Colts game, Three Wise Men in Broad Ripple for pizza and beer or going to Clowes Hall at Butler for a concert.”
—Mike Bosway ’80 and Betsy Sweeney Bosway ’81
“Running, walking or biking on the ever-expanding Monon Trail or the downtown canal. Listening to music at outdoor concerts held at various parks in the summer.“
—Margaret Adamek ’82
A book by Vincent F.A. Golphin ’79
Golphin originally intended to blog his account of being a visiting professor in Beijing, but China’s stringent firewalls kept him from accessing it. So, he journaled and drafted poems by hand. From his perch in a 10th-floor apartment, Golphin writes about “a world we haven’t begun to explore.” Of his work, he says, “I never know what’s going to come of my books; it’s sort of like a paper lantern over a pond: it will go wherever it goes, and I hope it brings light.”No Comments
A book by Brad Saum ’88
A finalist in the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards’ regional nonfiction category, Saum’s book delves into the history of Harney Peak, the highest point in the Black Hills of western South Dakota. It features a wide collection of unearthed artifacts, like an 1899 newspaper ad offering burro rides. A former park ranger, Saum promises the 7-mile hike to Harney Peak is worth it. “You can imagine Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum standing on the peak, peering across the pine trees and spotting a rock outcropping a few miles away, declaring it the site of a grand mountain carving.”No Comments
A book by Mary Murray Bosrock
“Before I was old enough to go to school, I knew three things. We were Irish, we were Catholic and we didn’t talk to our next-door neighbors.” So begins a chapter in Bosrock’s memoir of 1950s life in Sandusky, Ohio. The second-youngest of eight children — five of whom attended UD — she recalls an era where “innocence reigned and nuns ruled” and includes tales of her time on campus in the early 1960s. Bosrock, who has written more than 10 books, says, “When I turned 65, I decided instead of getting serious about writing, I would only write what I loved. And this book was a labor of love.”No Comments
A book by Heather Johnson Parsons ’95
At 10 years old, Parsons spent two weeks preparing for a class speech. Armed with plenty of research and hours of practice, she stood in front of her classmates — and was too paralyzed with fear to deliver a single word. In her book, You Know What I’m Sayin’?, the communications lecturer advises readers on how to avoid this and other common public speaking horrors. “I wrote the book for the average person who has never taken a public speaking course; but it was also on my bucket list,” Parsons says. “I wanted to challenge myself and prove that I could do it. Most of my friends don’t even know I wrote it.”No Comments
It sounds like a never-published Nancy Drew book: The mystery of the hidden hatchet.
Sent to University Archives 40 years ago by then-president Father Raymond Roesch, S.M. ’36, this handheld tool — a mere 12-by-6 inches but weighing in at 2 pounds — was unearthed during the last significant overhaul of Immaculate Conception Chapel.
“This hatchet was found in the base of the main altar in the chapel when it was removed during the renovation in 1971,” Roesch wrote. “Thus, it was probably used in the construction of the chapel in 1869.”
The chapel is UD’s third-oldest building (behind Zehler and Liberty halls), celebrating its 145th anniversary next year. Steam heat arrived in 1898, followed by electric lights a year later.
A major renovation also occurred in 1949.
While the tool’s origin is uncertain, Doug Gaier ’86, president of the Ohio Tool Collectors Association, agrees that it looks like a shingling hatchet, a common construction tool in the 19th century. A smaller sibling of an ax, it was used to shape shingles and nail them in place, with a notch on one end for pulling nails.
University Archivist Jennifer Brancato has one theory.
“According to Eric Sloane’s book, A Museum of Early American Tools, these hatchets had a hole in the handle so the worker could hang it from his wrist. Ours doesn’t have a hole, so maybe it was dropped and never picked up,” she said.
Or, its placement could have been intentional. Placing relics beneath altars was a frequent liturgical practice, said Crystal Sullivan, director of campus ministry. In Catholic theology, an ax or hatchet can be an emblem of St. Joseph, indicating his work as a carpenter.
Covered in decades of dirt and rust, a maker’s mark on one side of the blade is illegible, save for a clear “No. 2” etched at the top and the words “cast steel,” indicating its blade material. The handle is carved wood, worn smooth with age.
A good mystery isn’t complete without a twist, though. Viggo Rambusch, whose New York City-based architectural design company completed the chapel renovations in 1971, remembers it a bit differently.
“I have fond memories of Father Roesch and the remodeling of the chapel for post-Vatican II,” he said, “but for some vague reason, I think the hatchet was found in the pulpit.”
If there are any secrets left to uncover in UD’s chapel, they might be found next year: renovations to update the space are planned for 2014.No Comments
Married 63 years, Frederick J. and Marian A. Kroger were friends to the end, only briefly parted by death in January 2013.
When they died — just six days apart — their legacy was already large: faith, family, service and generosity. It grew even larger when the Krogers’ five children gathered to decide how to designate the trust their parents committed to the University in 1997.
“My parents were always devoted to God, family and country,” said Tim Kroger, who is a partner in Main Line Supply, the company started in 1955 by his father, a 1947 mechanical engineering graduate who came to UD after serving in World War II. Having escaped from a German prisoner-of-war camp late in the war, Kroger committed in gratitude to serving others for the rest of his life — and he did.
“He volunteered for everything,” Tim Kroger said. “Parish Council; the Knights of Columbus; St. Vincent de Paul; and the Inca Ball, which raised funds for missions in Central and South America. He would visit people in jail, and as far back as I can remember, they sponsored children in poverty around the world. They were involved with the Glenmary mission and the Marianists, and somehow, he came to all of our sporting events, too, all while growing Main Line Supply.”
Mrs. Kroger, an “extremely diligent wife and mother,” was a model of devotion to family and Catholic education, and their devotion to one another never faltered, Tim Kroger said. In their last days together at hospice, they shared a room, and the staff turned their beds so they could see each other.
“They sent all of us to Catholic schools, and they helped send all 16 of their grandkids to college,” Tim Kroger said. “The Catholic faith was very important to them, and they loved the University of Dayton.”
In tribute to the Krogers’ commitment to the University, to their faith and to Chaminade Julienne, the Marianist high school all of their children attended, Tim Kroger and his siblings — Anne Shock, Mary Helldoerfer, Mark Kroger and Pat Kroger — directed their parents’ gift to two initiatives: a new scholarship for UD-bound students from area Marianist high schools; and the upcoming renovation of the University’s Immaculate Conception Chapel.
“Our parents had the foresight to give to UD and CJ and various churches in the area, and one of their last requests of their children was to please continue this,” Tim Kroger said. “Their scholarship fund at UD will continue to grow.”
A good plan
For decades, planned giving has been an important foundation of the University of Dayton’s advancement, providing students with outstanding academic programs, world-renowned faculty, scholarships and state-of-the-art facilities. A planned gift is more than an act of generosity; it’s a demonstration of faith in the University — and the University of Dayton is grateful and honored to be entrusted with it.
The University received more than $3 million from planned gifts in 2012-13, and new planned gift commitments surpassed $5 million. Among those gifts was that of lifelong Daytonians and longtime University benefactors Frederick J. and Marian A. Kroger.No Comments
When Erin O’Connell ’14 sits down at her family’s holiday table each year, she expects a side of laughter with her cheesy potatoes. They will tease each other about who got to fill their plate first (the O’Connells line up by height, shortest in front) and continue poking fun at the couple who mailed frozen meat to an aunt in advance of the party — but forgot to tell her, so it thawed on her front stoop.
“Sitting down together over a meal is crucial to our relationships with each other, and to food,” says O’Connell, a senior dietetics major and president of the Student Dietetics Association. She notes that coming together at the table is central to the Marianist tradition.
As psychology professor Jack Bauer points out, “People need rituals. We are hard-wired to be part of groups, especially family, and in a time when our society is so complex — people are living all over and are busy — we need to have a set place where it all comes together, even just once a year.”
Meals also offer time for reflection. “You don’t need to have long, in-depth conversations about the meaning of life. Just by talking about the things that you’re doing, that you’re interested in, you’re talking about what’s important to you. You’re checking in with each other, and maybe finding ways to help each other,” says Bauer, who serves as Roesch Chair in the Social Sciences.
1. The family that cooks together, stays together. Or, at least stays happier. “Cooking as a group takes the pressure off one person to prepare the whole meal and be stuck in the kitchen,” O’Connell says. Also, plan ahead. If hosting a potluck, coordinate dishes so there’s adequate oven space, or ask guests to bring cold dishes, like a salad or fruit tray.
2. Think big (but serve small). In Brian Wansink’s book Mindless Eating, he notes that when food is placed in a smaller serving bowl with smaller serving utensils, people will take and eat less. “It’s a mental thing. You think you are eating the same as you would from a bigger bowl, but you actually serve yourself less and are still satisfied,” O’Connell explains. Aim to fill your table with a quarter protein, half vegetables and fruit, and a quarter grains.
3. Eat first, play later. No, you don’t have to give up grandma’s triple-layer pecan pie. But eating lean protein and vegetables before arriving can help you make clearer choices. “You’ll eat less because you’ll be full faster,” O’Connell says. Then, get moving: run a 5K together, throw a Frisbee around the yard or turn on some tunes and dance. “My family always plays flag football the day after Thanksgiving,” O’Connell says. “We enjoy working together as a team, but it also helps people feel relaxed and happy since physical activity produces endorphins.” She recommends scheduling your fun between dinner and dessert; it allows your cells to use those nutrients before you ingest more sugar.
4. Keep the fun (not the food poisoning) going. One memory no one wants: an illness epidemic. “Don’t let the food sit out for more than 90 minutes,” O’Connell says. “Not only does this follow recommended food safety guidelines, it also keeps you from eating more.” Another idea: Leftovers can make great one-dish entrees the next day, with little effort. O’Connell suggests turkey noodle soup, gnocchi using mashed potatoes, or a casserole. “Combine the rest of your vegetables, turkey and stuffing, add a cream soup, and put it in the oven.”
5. What guests don’t know won’t hurt them. One final tip: “If you alter recipes to reduce the fat and sugar, keep it a secret,” O’Connell advises. “Not everyone is ready to make those changes.”No Comments