Deafening silence

It’s been two weeks since we first found out that campus leader Phillip Calderon is actually a 37-year-old non-student. But now what was once a striking curiosity has become a seriously, seriously disturbing story.

In our last editorial on the subject, we wanted to avoid the criminality of the Calderon story because we didn’t know enough. Now we do.

We know he went to prison in California for two years, for assault with a deadly weapon ‘ fist-sized rocks, to be precise.

We know he attended SUNY Albany (more than a decade later) but left after three semesters ‘ he pled guilty to third-degree sexual abuse in Albany and did jail time there for it too.

We know he has been accused of sexual assault twice since he came to Binghamton in early 2008. One of those accusations was filed with Binghamton police in January 2009.

The other? Last month, on Sept. 24. This second charge is what actually alerted Binghamton University to Calderon’s status as an impostor.

Oddly though, the University lied about how it discovered Calderon’s incredible deception. Two weeks ago, the University told the press that a discrepancy was found in his application for the chair seat on the board of directors for Off Campus College Transport, which then led to the investigation.

Obviously, they didn’t want us to know that the school was unknowingly harboring a convicted felon and sex offender, so they found one of Calderon’s lesser criminalities to feed us. But this piece of fiction is indicative of the University’s treatment of the entire situation.

The administration has been treating the entire scandal like a public relations problem, not a public safety issue. And yes, this is certainly a P.R. problem ‘ this makes the school look absolutely hapless ‘ but there is a legitimate element of danger here.

Initially, Calderon fell through the cracks on campus. So be it. But both of the men that filed sexual assault charges against Calderon were students.

There have been no Rave Alerts, no B-Lines, not a single e-mail. The school has been consistently near-silent on the issue, except for occasional peeps to Pipe Dream and the Press & Sun-Bulletin.

Where are they on this, other than covering their asses?

The University claimed that police escorted him off campus, and he’s been told to stay away. And we don’t expect the school to build a fence around the campus or hire roughnecks to guard every student, but more of an active stance would be appropriate.

Here is a situation where engagement with students is necessary. Think about it, if the school had taken a more hands-on approach to the student body, they may have realized that one of the most visible undergraduate students at this school never went here. But now, they have absolutely nothing to say about it.

In some ways, Calderon had a one-up on the University. At least he was able to deceive everyone into thinking he cared.