Sunday, February 1, 2004

Miami U. confronts rumors, myths



By Jon Gambrell
Enquirer contributor

OXFORD - Have a question? Ask Mama.

Mama Miami, a joint venture of Miami University's news and public information department, answers student, staff and faculty questions ranging from the serious to the bizarre.

With MU's student body of roughly 16,000, rumors fly around campus just as at any other college, according to Miami spokesman Richard Little.

During a worker strike in late September, the university launched a Web site devoted to answering specific questions and addressing rumors.

"A lot of people told me it was the first thing they read in the morning (during the strike)," Little said. "Rumors are always prevalent on a college campus, so we thought we'd establish a mechanism to deal with them."

To access Mama's Web site users have to enter their university username and password, but all questions posed remain anonymous, Little said.

With each question Mama answers, she'll give a thumbs-up, down or in the middle, depending on the accuracy of the question.

While some questions deal with Miami's diversity programs and commitment to recruiting minority students, others concern urban myths, such as whether certain buildings are haunted or whether students get free tuition if a campus bus hits them.

Mama says "No" to both.

And with admissions season in full swing, rumors of actresses and singers entering Miami as freshmen always pop up. While some have claimed Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen would grace the campus, Little said, the admission of Melissa Joan Hart's sister was the university's closest and most recent brush with fame.

While the questions continue to come in, there is one Little can definitively answer.

"People have asked me if I am Mama Miami - I'm not," he said.

E-mail jgambrell@fuse.net




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