Who Can Can Engstrom?

by lizard

A PR shit-storm will now descend on UM President Royce Engstrom. I’m sure some are already thinking Wow, this asshole was just making demands that the Forrester’s ball change OR ELSE, and now it looks like he tipped off an alleged rapist so the kid could flee the country.

Read the whole article. It’s dumbfounding. Obviously pay raises for top positions, like president of a University, doesn’t guarantee a quality product.

Engstrom should go. Would that be the Board of Regents job?

What’s going to make this shit-storm particularly brutal for those involved is the fact I’m sure they had no other choice. The punk-ass who allegedly committed two sexual assaults is even more untouchable than a football player; he’s a Saudi Arabian probably already soaking in the sun.

Which makes us, the Missoula community, safer, says Engstrom:

The campus is safer because of the man’s departure, Engstrom said at a news conference that he called to clarify the sequence of events involved in the incidents. He called the university’s actions “timely” and “appropriate.” Any impression “that we sat around for a week before we did anything” is untrue, he said.

Engstrom’s right, of course. They weren’t just sitting around. No, Gwen’s article makes it kind of sound like there was some aiding and abetting going on, but I ain’t a law guy, so what the hell do I know?

I know I was at a house party once, in the South Hills, and at this party I met a few Saudi exchange students. I got into an argument with one of ’em on the back deck, a real arrogant prick. I found myself in the somewhat unique position of defending America, because this Saudi’s sense of entitlement to brazenly sample the freedoms he then turned around and arrogantly sneered at demanded a response, so I asked him if he would be able to blow coke (they were) and drunkenly grope American chicks (they did) back in his lovely country, or if Daddy just sent him to the states to get it out of his system before he got his cloaked servant. It came close to blows.

That was four, maybe five years ago. And now that UM’s rape-tolerant culture is exploding into the headlines—AGAIN—ugly little secrets are surfacing, like an administration exposed as being MORE considerate and responsive to an alleged rapist from (ahem) Saudi Arabia than they were to the two possibly victimized women. I hope everyone responsible for reporting these alleged crimes enjoyed that LOOOONNNGG weekend. Can’t get around to reporting possible sexual assaults until the following business week, right?


  1. petetalbot

    Well, liz, although there appear to be some horrendous procedural lapses, and any action taken was less than timely, to say the least, I’m not ready to call for Engstrom’s head quite yet.

    Anyway, the Kaimin has more details here and here.

  2. Well, you’ve convinced us that everyone from Saudi Arabia is a narcissistic asshole and probable rapist, and that the university administration is out to cover this all up, for some mysterious reason.

    What minority group will you see fit to attack next?

    • lizard19

      mysterious reason? nah, it’s no mystery. it’s about money and power, and the entitlement that comes along with being able to do what you want without consequences. that is the attitude and behavior I personally witnessed, so I think it’s relevant to share.

      and now this kid is back in Saudi Arabia, beyond the reach of the law. do you really think the UM administration handled this situation correctly, Pancho?

  3. Buzz Feedback

    Nobody will be held accountable. Nobody in the MT University system ever is.

  4. Binky Griptight

    Not sure that phrases like, “he’s a Saudi fucking Arabian” will help the University deal with this poorly handled situation.

    Seems like there’s two issues here – your racism and the University’s actions. Why mix the two in one post?

    • lizard19

      I took out the “fucking” because you’re right, it’s not helpful, and exhibits some prejudice I harbor due to a personal experience.

      • petetalbot

        Way to ‘man up’ and admit that “fucking” wasn’t the best adjective to use in your post to describe the alleged perp. (I know how you feel about ‘man up’ — and I probably shouldn’t be messing around with it in light of this most controversial post.)

        Seriously, when and how do we identify someone’s nationality, ethnicity, etc.? It’s a tough call.

        Would ‘foreign exchange student’ have sufficed instead of ‘Saudi?’ Would ‘French’ or ‘German’ or ‘Latvian’ have raised fewer hackles than IDing someone of Middle Eastern descent? Of course the readers are dying to know just what nationality this person was but then a lot of them would probably want to know someone’s race, as well.

        Maybe no mention of nationality should be the way to go but then everyone would want to know why this person had fled to Saudi Arabia …

        I know the practice of using black or Indian or Mexican has mostly been dropped when reporting crime stories. Why? Because you seldom saw a story that read, “a Caucasian male held up a liquor store … ” even though white males also hold up liquor stores, so it’s good that practice has been dropped.

        On the other hand, when the police are on the lookout for someone, they’ll often use: white male, 6’2″ or black female with a rose tattoo on her left arm. That seems to make sense.

        I guess using ‘Saudi’ is OK. None of the reporters used ‘Muslim’ but of course it’s assumed that a Saudi man is a Muslim … so there you go.

        Back in my traveling days, I had a lot of interaction with Muslims and I found them to be gracious, hospitable and accepting. I also had an experience with some young, upper-class Saudi men who I found to be arrogant, rude and self-possessed, but I’m sure they’re not all like that — and I’m glad you took “fucking” away as a descriptor.

        I was going to do a post on this subject but because I’m not really sure where I’m going with it, I’ll just leave it as a comment.

        • Binky Griptight

          It’s a tricky issue, Pete. The university has lots of groups that struggle with different challenges – athletes, international students, veterans, Native Americans, and the like. It’s not like they’re supposed to be protected classes of students, but they each benefit from different assistance, and sometimes, accommodation.

          I, too, have met many arseholes at parties and I guess that’s how we develop stereotypes. Would us lefties get so upset if the perpetrators were identified as being from fraternities? Would the Missoulian or UM identify them as such?

        • lizard19

          I appreciate the thoughtful comment, Pete. if I called him an f*ing Arab, or an f*ing Muslim, that would be way beyond personal prejudice. I don’t know if that nuance matters to anyone else, but it does to me.

          I’m not trying to excuse the part of my post that’s still ugly in describing how I responded to this exchange student, but that’s how I responded at the time, and I think it’s relevant.

          not because I think that’s how all young men from Saudi Arabia behave, but because I directly witnessed a handful of exchange students from Saudi Arabia saying and doing things that, who knows, later that night, could very easily have resulted in a sexual assault.

          and part of what I think has facilitated that kind of behavior (not just Saudis, but young men in general—or does that make me sexist too?) is how some groups of people (football players being one) appear to be treated differently, and suffer less severe consequences, because of their privileged positions.

          angry writing is not usually a good idea, but man, the stuff the one kid I was arguing with said about American women (you know, like how easy they are), and America in general, was incredibly offensive. if I had been really drunk, it could have been me getting arrested that night for assault.

          • Pete Talbot

            I’ve never written a post in anger (snark). Anyway, I hope you realize that my comment wasn’t directed at you — although I probably didn’t make that very clear — just sort of mental meanderings on nationalities and ethnicities and prejudices, and how we deal with various descriptors in news stories and posts. Always a tricky subject.

  5. As far as I can find out-diplomatic immunity does not extend to international students. So…the implication that this student, because he is not a US citizen, is immune from the laws of the land is not true.

    I don’t care what this student’s nationality is–he should have faced investigation and prosecution. The Missoula Police should have been involved as soon as possible, and the student prevented from fleeing. That is not what happened. I am even less impressed with Engstrom than I was Dennison, and that’s saying a lot.

    Words like reprehensible, appalling, disgusting, come to mind when I consider the UM’s behavior toward sexual assault. If the assault was happening the the football players you know there would have been a rapid, forceful reponse.

  6. ladybug

    Foley is the system’s fixer. Another Engstrom is waiting in the wings. Schweitzer just appointed two politicians to the Board of Regents. Students and education have become incidental to U of M’s function. Taking a page out of 1970’s Pentagon tactics, victims are misrepresented as unavoidable collatoral damage. Let’s have another panel discussion, or a BIG conference. Oh, let’s.

  7. Turner

    Why is there such a thing as a campus police force? Why aren’t crimes committed on campus or by students off-campus treated like any other crimes in Missoula?

    Also, I wonder how much of the higher education budget goes to salaries for redundant police forces in various communities?

  8. lizard19

    can someone tell me what “race” a Saudi Arabian is? if I’m going to be a racist, I’d like to be an informed racist.

    • Rob Kailey


      For the record, I do not think you were being a racist. I think you were being over-the-top pissed off at a nationality which has lent itself to an injustice, first by offering a lesser view of women as part of it’s culture and then by offering safe harbor to an alleged criminal.

  9. a repeat of this outrageous blunder can be solved by simply hiring an experienced detective on the administrative staff who is allowed to work independently without interference from a UM administration which is obviously too focused on PR to adequately protect UM students from sexual predators.

    this detective should investigate these crimes and report them to the proper authorities immediately if a crime occurred. no professor or administrator should be involved in this process.

    criminology and perp behavior are obviously not in the skillset of academics. it takes a professional to do a professional job. meetings are fine but meanwhile someone who knows what they are doing should be in charge here.

    and counting on campus police to do anything other than monitor traffic and parking on campus is sheer wishful thinking.

    this situation calls for a full-time and permanent on campus detective to protect students.

    by mishandling this situation, UM has simply demonstrated to any potential rapists out there that it is now open season on UM women and there is very little chance of being caught.

    hiring a real world detective who understands criminal behavior instead of bumbling academicians would turn the situation around in a hurry.

  10. Ingemar Johansson

    I find this interesting.

    On the Brady Gun control Website they rank states.


    MT doesn’t allow guns on campus. The only points they scored in the evaluation.

  11. Change some of the names and facts and you might wonder whether you were reading about Penn State and the Sandusky affair.

    For a university president, protecting the institution comes before all else, including justice for individuals. Perhaps the Saudi will be indicted, perhaps extradition will be sought. But the man’s flight to, presumably, the land of sand, God, and oil, is almost ideal from a university president’s perspective: the campus becomes safer (if the Saudi did indeed commit bad acts) and the ugly details stay unknown and out of the news media.

    I’m not ready to conclude that the university behaved in a way that strongly suggested to the Saudi that he get out of Dodge, but it’s certainly fair to wonder whether that happened. If the young man concluded it was time to go, that’s one thing. If the university in any way encouraged him to take flight, that’s another.

    It’s also fair to wonder if the university was trying to protect contributions, past and future, from the Saudi’s family or countrymen.

  12. Pete Talbot

    An additional perspective can be found over at Bill Vaughn’s Dark Acres. I like what he has to say about the campus cops, particularly the fact that there are no women officers among the twelve-member squad. I’m not sure I agree with his last line, though:

    “Victims of campus crimes would be better off reporting them to the real police, the ones downtown.”

    The “real police” haven’t been particularly aggressive in pursuing sexual assault suspects, either.

  13. lizard19

    the charge that how I referred to the Saudi Arabian exchange student could be construed as specifically *racist* has really been gnawing at me, so I finally looked at some definitions (after a dustup with someone I respect) and found the overlap that undermines the distinction I’ve been making between nationality and race.

    when I think of racism I think of the first definition:

    1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race

    the second definition reads:

    2 : racial prejudice or discrimination

    next I looked up prejudice:

    1 : injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one’s rights; especially : detriment to one’s legal rights or claims

    2 a (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge

    b : an instance of such judgment or opinion

    c : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics

    and finally one of the definitions of nationality.

    5 : a people having a common origin, tradition, and language and capable of forming or actually constituting a nation-state

    b : an ethnic group constituting one element of a larger unit (as a nation)


    I can see how my comments can be construed as racist, which makes me further regret how I chose to include an experience that has rendered an aspect of how I responded to this outrage as prejudicial against a group of people.

    it distracts from where the focus needs to be: on how to make a university system more responsive to the victims of sexual assault.

  14. Dean Moriarity

    Way to “cowboy up”, Liz19, really. That is what it takes, admitting mistakes. There are some highly paid university employees who could take note.

    The Commissioner of Higher Education’s “heckuva job Brownie” statement of support is laughable. Letting the alleged rapist get away is not a job well done. Ignoring the problem over the long weekend is not a job well done. Patting yourself on the back instead of admitting failure and outlining a new course is not a job well done.

    I don’t think women officers automatically are more sympathetic to the victims or more energized in solving them. But if there is going to be a campus police force, they can’t be Barney Fifes or overruled by academics. They need to be cops like downtown cops, at the very least. (Of course, I don’t mean the one sneaking off to testify against medical marijuana while his officers patrol Rape Town USA)

    I think MSU has a former City of Bozeman deputy chief of police on it’s force, the former head of detectives.

    So the explanation that “only the victim can report the crime to the cops” squares with “we told the county prosecutor’s office” how? And the victim was encouraged to report right away? The heads up on the alleged perpetrator relayed to the city cops how? Its a community and the town and the gown better be working together, as one force, when it comes to public safety.

    “what we have here is a failure to communicate” doesn’t cut it for me. “What we have here are multiple failures”.

    The long weekend. Sure, no academic or dean should be required to pay attention to his job on the weekend, right? Especially not a long weekend. None of us do, do we, get called in to work on an emergency?

    The late friday press conference for bad news. Nothing cynically manipulative about that, is there?

    Sexual assault isn’t an honor code violation. It’s not a matter for academics or the parking misters. Isn’t there an agreement between either, campus cops and sheriff, or campus cops and city police, on use of detectives for major crimes?

    As an FYI, MSU athletics tried the privacy thing when the big boys went after the guns used in the murder of the drug dealer by the MSU athlete(s), conveniently stored in the MSU locker room locker. Yeah, rape and murder in the town does require immediate cooperation from the ivory tower on the hill.

    After a weekend of reflection, these are still my gut reactions.

    • Pete Talbot

      Mr. Moriarity hits the nail on the head. The only area where I might disagree is this one:

      “I don’t think women officers automatically are more sympathetic to the victims or more energized in solving them (sexual assault/rape cases).”

      As Bill Vaughn points out, there are twelve officers at UM Public Safety. None are women. Women officers might not be “automatically” more sympathetic but nine-out-of-ten times I’ll bet they are, especially if they’ve been trained with an emphasis on sexual assault and rape cases — what a novel idea!

      And I imagine a sexual assault/rape victim would be much more comfortable talking to a woman officer than a man.

      • JC

        It’s not that women officers are more sympathetic, but most women would much rather make their initial report to a woman than a man after being sexually assaulted by a man. I thought that had become pretty much SOP in police departments. Guess not at the u.m… yet.

  15. There is a line in the film Ghostbusters that I feel is relevant here, albeit in a different form.

    The line: “Ray, when somebody asks you if you’re a god you say YES!.”

    For this situation the line should maybe be: “Royce, when somebody tells you there’s been a rape, you say ‘Someone please inform the police of this awful crime.'”

  1. 1 A Dispatch From America’s Rape Capital « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] I do my best to be perpetually righteous (kinda-snark) I was called out back in February for how I angrily responded to the allegation of sexual assault by a Saudi Arabian exchange student attending […]

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