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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Editorial: UA failed to heed warning signs in dorm murder

    The testimony presented by five witnesses this week in the trial of former UA freshman Galareka Harrison, charged in the stabbing death of her roommate, left one thing clear: This could have been prevented.

    It could have been prevented if Mia Henderson, who had repeatedly reported her roommate’s disturbing behavior to UA officials and requested a different roommate, had found those officials responsive to her requests for help. They were not.

    When Henderson told UA police on Aug. 28, 2007, that she believed Harrison had stolen her CatCard along with her Social Security card, $500 and two checks that totaled $3,000, they investigated. According to the lawsuit being filed against the UA, the state and the Arizona Board of Regents by Henderson’s parents, Harrison confessed to those crimes.

    Unfortunately, Henderson’s request to be reassigned to a different dorm room went unheeded. A week after Henderson’s report, she was stabbed to death – Harrison was still her roommate.

    The day before the stabbing, Harrison had been informed by the Dean of Students Office that Henderson intended to press charges with the FBI. No one, astonishingly, took actions to protect Henderson from reprisal.

    According to Henderson’s friend Londynn Young, who testified Friday, an official “”kinda chuckled”” at Henderson when she asked to be given a different roommate, and later told her, “”This happens every day.””

    As former UA resident assistant Diane Povatah said in her testimony Friday, “”Anywhere outside the university, someone would have been in jail that night.”” But the most officials did to defuse the situation, according to Povatah, was to advise Henderson and Harrison to shake hands and “”let bygones be bygones.””

    Are UA students being robbed and defrauded by their roommates “”every day?”” It seems more likely that apathy and carelessness on the part of officials were at fault here. Normally, this slowness to act – so familiar to any student who has dealt with the university bureaucracy – is merely annoying and inconvenient. This time, it may have resulted in a student’s death.

    As the lawsuit states: “”The university was aware that Galareka was emotionally upset, fearful that she was being prosecuted, angry that Mia had reported her crimes and blamed Mia rather than her own criminal acts as the source of her difficulties.””

    Harrison now faces charges of first-degree murder, forgery and identity theft. But as the trial unfolds, one culprit is already clear. The UA was guilty of unforgivable negligence.

    Editorials are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Andi Berlin, Justyn Dillingham, Lauren LePage, Lance Madden and Nick Seibel.

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