OPINION: University of Dayton’s Mayhem with Michael Masterson

Charley Lustig | Opinions Editor

The University of Dayton takes pride in many of its strengths, including affordability, high post-graduation employment rates, industry partnerships and more. UD students’ pursuit of greatness stems from outstanding faculty dedicated to the success and future of the younger generations. A former faculty member included Michael Masterson, who was arrested in a statewide human trafficking crackdown earlier this week.

To many, Masterson seemed like most of the staff at the University of Dayton: respectable, passionate and dedicated. 

“I held him in super high regard,” said a past UD student of Masterson.

He said that Masterson would often incorporate a sense of humor into his classroom settings.

This former educator at UD seemed to be living a busy, but prosperous life. 

“It seemed like he had it all; money, a good family that he would talk about, a solid career with a great legacy,” the UD student said, referencing the many career highlights of Masterson. 

Another UD senior, majoring in finance, was taking the course FIN 460 with Masterson, and called him an “extremely likable professor.” 

The student said Masterson “brought many years of experience and knowledge into the class and was sharing that” as well as a person who is “always friendly, flexible, and understanding to anything we had going on or needed help with.” 

This finance student also mentioned Masterson’s pride in his family. 

“I enjoyed the stories he would share about his family and his daughters, with most of them being relatable to me. They were relatable because his daughters are around my age, and according to the stories, would interact with him [Masterson] as many kids our age would,” he recalled.

But on Oct. 2, both students and the outside community would be speechless about the revealed identity of a kind, understanding, and respected professor.

The arrest of Michael Masterson 

On Oct. 2, local Dayton media outlets, WHIO and Dayton247Now, began reporting on the recent arrest of a former UD professor. This was none other than Michael Masterson. 

The news spread like wildfire, turning the stomachs of those who read the current stories—that Masterson had been arrested for allegedly soliciting sex from human traffickers. And the former Hanley Center director and finance professor was not the only one taken down.

For a week, Ohio police forces cracked down on those soliciting human traffickers and had arrested 160 other individuals. People of all ranks were being arrested left and right including those in the Air Force. 

This effort, called “Operation Buyer’s Remorse,” not only arrested those soliciting human trafficking but identified trafficking victims as well. 

The University of Dayton itself seems to be in a state of shock due to the recent allegations against Masterson. While an official public statement has yet to be released, the UD’s School of Business Administration (SBA) students were sent a brief email that said “Right now, we are focused on ensuring a positive educational experience for you as our students” and apologized for “ any distress this situation may have caused you.” 

Unfortunately, many students were in a state of distress, especially those currently taking Masterson’s courses this semester. One of Masterson’s current students said “this arrest definitely has brought some stress and anxiety into my life, that is for sure. With graduation being right around the corner and my major’s capstone class being totally disrupted, I am scared about how hard the adaptations and especially exams will be.”

While many details still remain unknown about the allegations against Masterson, all of the UD community is trying to comprehend and digest this situation. The impact of this terrible revelation has left many speechless, confused, concerned and upset.  

Perspectives from both former and current students

Masterson’s arrest caught many students by surprise. A senior business major at UD said “this caught me so off guard.” The student was bewildered “to think that he’s ruined all of that [success] for something like this.”

Another of Masterson’s current students in the finance capstone course shared this shock. “Seeing the mugshot it was like a totally different side of him that I had never seen,” he said. “The mugshot revealed to me a darker and scary side to him that was never shown, not even hinted at in any of the classes I attended.”

But current students weren’t the only ones receiving word of this terrible event. A UD alumni said, “I was sent the Flyer News article from another alum… [I] was completely disgusted [in] finding out that a man with such horrific allegations was in charge of educating young adults was incredibly disappointing.” 

Shock and disgust radiated powerfully throughout the UD community. A sense of innocence has been stripped from students as some evils of the world have officially penetrated their own community sphere. Many students refuse to comment on the situation as they try to understand the events unfolding. 

To many, the news about Masterson is too big of a pill to swallow. This was a man who had built relationships both with other staff members and students. As much as we like to think only monsters are able to participate in such crimes against humanity, this situation has opened the eyes of many to the horrific realities of human trafficking; even those we’d least expect and most respect have the capabilities of doing the unspeakable.  

Expectations for the University 

There is still debris flying in the air after this catastrophic event. As stated previously, there is still much information that needs to be released, especially the details of Masterson’s case. Yet the delay in response from the University regarding Masterson is drawing attention from the greater UD community. 

A UD alumni was vocal about his disappointment in the transparency and communication from the University. 

“I am very upset with administrators declining to comment on the situation at all,” he said. “Our community deserves more than that.”

A current business student said, “The only thing that is weird is that I haven’t received an email about the situation when other students seem to, but that doesn’t really change my perspective on the University.”

One of Masterson’s capstone students felt similarly. He questioned both the University as well as UD Public Safety. His specific concerns regarded Masterson’s alleged arrest on Sept. 27 where, only hours later, bail was posted. 

“It makes me wonder if the police department did not inform the University that they had arrested one of their faculty members, or maybe they did just not in time for his morning classes of FIN 460 Masterson taught less than 24 hours after his arrest,” he said.

The University of Dayton is in a very tight spot. Should an announcement be made? Do they only inform SBA students? What finite conclusions can they make from the scarce amount of details? 

While it is important to remember that one is deemed innocent until proven guilty, there can be other statements made surrounding the bigger issue: human trafficking. 

As a Catholic institution that understands the value of life and human dignity, the University has the ability to raise awareness of this wrong, reinstate its beliefs that protect all lives, and gather its community to strive for change. This situation presents the University with an opportunity to recognize a growing epidemic and connect its community with resources that can help people identify human trafficking and help its victims.

One man doesn’t reflect the entire UD community

Despite the disputes regarding the University’s communication and statements regarding the Masterson situation, students are coming together through the belief that one man’s despicable actions do not represent the University in its entirety. 

While still upset by the lack of an official statement, a UD business alumni expressed his trust in the University.

“I don’t think you can blame the University as a whole for one man’s actions,” he said.

“I don’t think it really reflects on the University as a whole…it has made me reflect on how some people can seem to have it all and be incredibly successful, yet find some evil way to ruin their own lives,” another student said. “How many other people have secrets like this that endanger others?”

This student brought up a growing concern; Masterson’s arrest has sparked hesitation in whether one UD community member truly knows another. This has, hopefully, expanded the social awareness of many while also realizing that human trafficking is a growing issue with an exceedingly large appetite.

A greater sense of awareness

Unfortunately, human trafficking is one of the many heartbreaking realities of the world that has now interlocked its fingers with the University of Dayton. While there may have been those in the UD community that have turned their heads to the subject prior, the arrest of Micahel Masterson has shown human trafficking prevalence in society, and even more specifically, how it may be happening in one’s backyard.

Thousands in the U.S. alone are victims of human trafficking each year. According to the Human Trafficking Institute, 4.8 million individuals are trafficked across the globe annually. Of course, the exact number of trafficking victims still remains unknown, and it is much probable that this number is immensely higher than the estimated amount. 

It is hard to see the light through this dark time. But this traumatic situation presents the opportunity for everyone to spread awareness and take action against a heinous crime. While many are still struggling to come to terms with Masteron’s arrest, the UD community can come together and work towards ending this crime. 

The University of Dayton prides itself to be “passionately striving to create a brighter tomorrow—together.” In doing so, “The University, as Catholic, also relies on the presence and work of people from other religious traditions, indeed, all people of goodwill, in discovering what is true, cherishing what is good, and enjoying what is beautiful.” 

From this horrendous incident, there is hope to overcome and restore the University’s reputation and image to these wonderful ideals. 

There are a number of organizations committed to ending human trafficking and helping survivors. If you are interested in contributing to them, please consider contributing to any of the following organizations or searching for other ways to help.

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