51° Good Morning
51° Good Morning

Parents, alums shouldn’t block evaluation at Merchant Marine Academy

A ships propeller on display outside the American

A ships propeller on display outside the American Merchant Marine Museum located at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point on Aug. 31, 2016. Credit: Jeremy Bales

If parents and alumni affiliated with the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy really cared about the school and its students, they wouldn’t stand in the way of independent efforts to determine what’s wrong — and what should change — at the school.

But that’s exactly what they’re doing.

Kings Point has a tremendous pool of graduates who often land jobs in military supply transportation or commercial trade. But it also has the highest rate of sexual harassment and assault of any U.S. service academy. More than 60 percent of female students and 11 percent of male students reported sexual harassment, confidential surveys showed.

Add to that a warning from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education that the school failed to meet five of its 14 standards. Administrators and federal officials were rightly concerned, and brought in outside experts to conduct an evaluation of and investigation into the school, with a focus on the sexual harassment complaints.

But some alumni and parents haven’t supported those efforts. Some alumni have even told students and others to refuse to participate in focus groups or interviews. They’re angered by the school’s decision to change its Sea Year program to allow students to work only on federal ships, instead of commercial vessels, because of concerns about sexual harassment. They see their efforts as an act of protest. Instead, they’re hurting the school they profess to love.

Alumni and parents should welcome and assist all efforts to uncover problems and be willing to do whatever is necessary to turn the ship around. — The editorial board


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.