You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.


Questions and answers at UMass Dartmouth

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth didn’t turn Dzhokhar Tsarnaev into a terrorist, any more than Harvard made Ted Kaczynksi the Unabomber. But the university has come under a harsh spotlight since it emerged that the 19-year-old Boston Marathon bombing suspect lived in a dorm room on campus, where he is remembered as an intramural soccer player, marijuana peddler, and mediocre student.

To its credit, the university isn’t dodging questions. “We owe it to the Commonwealth” to probe the school’s conduct, Chancellor Divina Grossman told the Globe’s Adrian Walker. The school must examine its interactions with Tsarnaev, and also with his three friends, Dias Kadyrbayev, Azamat Tazhayakov, and Robel Phillipos. Police say the three friends, former students at UMass Dartmouth, had no knowledge of the bombings beforehand but destroyed evidence and misled police in the investigation that followed.

Continue reading below

The school’s inquiry also needs to fill in some details: Did officials miss any signs of trouble with Tsarnaev? Was the safety of other students ever in danger? How did Tsarnaev and some of his friends manage to stay in school despite their mediocre grades and, in Tsarnaev’s case, a $20,000 unpaid tuition bill? When Kadyrbayev dropped out, an action that should have invalidated his student visa but apparently did not, were all the proper immigration authorities immediately notified?

As the university is lacerated on blogs and mocked in The Onion, it would be easy to circle the wagons. But Grossman’s openness to self-examination should be commended — and emulated. Along their path to extremism, one or both of the Tsarnaev brothers also passed through many other community institutions: schools, religious groups, athletic teams, gyms, workplaces. None of them bears responsibility for the brothers’ actions, but all ought to seek any lessons that can be learned.

Loading comments...
Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
Please enter a valid email will never post anything without asking.
Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of
Marketing image of