Year in Review: CM Life looks at biggest headlines of 2018


From a double-homicide on campus that led to a campus-wide lockdown, to Central Michigan's head football coach being fired, a lot happened in 2018.

A new president for CMU, a new governor for Michigan, fraternities being suspended, women's basketball making program-history and recent hate messages surfacing on campus, Central Michigan Life was there to cover it all.

As 2018 comes to an end, here's a look back at some of the year's biggest headlines CM Life covered on campus and across the country.


Jan. 11: Head coach John Bonamego’s five-year extension came with a pay increase and more contract incentives. In the 2018 season, he was guaranteed $655,900. He was fired after the last game of the season. 

Central Michigan head coach John Bonamego walks into Kelly/Shorts Stadium to play Maine on Sept. 22.

Jan. 15: Phi Kappa Tau was suspended until the Spring 2021 semester following an investigation over multiple student conduct violations. “They have been sanctioned by the university and shut down by their national office,” said Director of the Office of Student Conduct Tom Idema. 

Jan. 19: Former CMU gymnast Samantha Ursch comes forward to face Larry Nassar as one of more than 150 women to provide victim impact statements to the court. 

Jan. 22: After eight years as Central Michigan University President, George Ross announced in a campus-wide email he was going to step down. In the email, Ross said the birth of his first grandchild was motivation. 

George Ross addresses questions from the media during a press conference after he was named the 14th president of Central Michigan University Dec. 3, 2009.

Jan. 23: In Gov. Rick Snyder’s last State of the State address, he said Michigan is better off now than it was when he started in 2010. Snyder mentioned the Larry Nassar scandal and wanted to show support for survivors “to ensure cases like this never happen again.” 

Jan. 30: Fall 2017 enrollment dropped four percent from the Fall 2016 semester. In a press release, Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services Steven Johnson said the drop was anticipated with more competition from other universities. 


Feb. 1: Head coach Tom Borrelli was inducted into the National Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame. The wrestling coach has been at CMU since 1992. 

Feb. 6: CMU athletics announces plan for the Chippewa Champions Center — a $32 million renovation to the north end of Kelly/Shorts Stadium. The renovations include an alumni center, new scoreboard and locker rooms.

Feb. 15: CMU Board of Trustee's agree to offer all US residents in-state tuition, which started before the Fall 2018 semester. This was an effort to make CMU more competitive in recruiting high school students who aren't from Michigan. 

Feb. 28: Women’s basketball won the regular season Mid-American Conference championship and earned the No. 1 seed in the MAC Tournament. They went on to win the tournament championship and make a run to the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA tournament. 

Head coach Sue Guevara speaks during the press conference at Spokane Arena in Spokane, Washington on March 23.


March 2:
Campus went into lockdown for hours after gunshots were fired in Campbell Hall. James Eric Davis Jr., a 19-year-old Illinois sophomore, shot and killed his mother and father in his room. Davis Jr. was arrested late that night.

State Police sweep blocks of houses north of Campus near Oak Street, looking for James Eric Davis Jr., the suspected shooter, on March 2.

March 24: The women's basketball team made CMU history when they made it to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA championship. The team ended its historic 50th season with a 83-69 loss to the Oregon Ducks.

March 24: About 720 students and Mount Pleasant community members gathered in Island Park to chant and hold their signs high in Mount Pleasant's March For Our Lives protest. A small group of students organized the event, which was meant to bring attention to school shootings and gun control.


April 1: CMU's fraternities and sororities raised a record-breaking $100,000 during their annual Greek Week. The money raised was donated to the Women's Aid Shelter and Special Days Camps.

April 7: Student fashion designers showcased their collections on the runway during the 20th anniversary of the annual Threads Fashion Show. The show was organized by 44 students, and 21 designers showcased their collections, which were modeled by 95 student volunteers.

April 16: Women's basketball head coach Sue Guevara remains third-highest paid coach at CMU after signing a five-year contract that includes $340,000 in base salary and additional compensation. 


May 4: West Bloomfield Township senior Kevin Karim Maher Ajluni died May 3 after sustaining injuries from falling down a flight of stairs. The Mount Pleasant Police Department reported that it was unsure at what time the fall occurred, but believed that alcohol was a factor in the fatality. 

May 13: Then-CMU baseball head coach Steve Jaksa earns his 500th career victory against Miami (Ohio). Jaksa “retired” after the 2018 season and accepted a head coaching job at Saginaw Valley State University. 

Central Michigan University Baseball Head Coach Steve Jaksa recently met with his team to discuss their progress and where they are headed. Jaksa said success in play involves passion, attitude, consistency and playing at their own level. "It's time for commitment. If we're gonna be what we wanna be, what do we have to do?" Jaksa said. "Here's where we're at, where do we want to go?" (Photo by Sara Winkler/Assistant Photo Editor)

May 31: Central Michigan University hosted the 50th Special Olympics Michigan. The weekend-long event hosted athletic competitions, medical screenings and a carnival for family and friends of the athletes. Nearly 6,500 volunteers, athletes, coaches and family members participated in the weekend.


June 8: Kaya Coffee Shop and The Malt Shop close due to issues with the building’s landlord. Further investigation revealed flooding and safety concerns made up the bulk of the business’ complaints with the landlord. 

The old home to The Malt Shop and Kaya sits vacant on Aug. 24 at 1088 S University st.

June 11: Medical Marijuana Ordinance - The Mount Pleasant City Commission approved an ordinance to allow medical marihuana facilities within city limits. The ordinance adds a chapter 112, “Medical Marihuana Facilities,” to Title XI of the Mount Pleasant City Code.  

June 27: Former Northwood head coach Jordan Bischel was introduced as the new head baseball head coach at CMU after Jaksa’s departure. 

June 27: Athletics Director Michael Alford told the the Finance and Facilities Committee that the Chippewa Champions Center will cost $32 million and could be complete by 2021. 

June 28: Central Michigan University’s Presidential Search Advisory Committee decided on a final five candidates for the 15th president of the university. Committee members vetted over 70 applications and conducted 11 in-person interviews. 

Central Michigan University’s Board of Trustees approved a $225 student service fee to take effect beginning during the 2018-2019 academic year. Trustees said much of the fee will go to counseling services on campus. No raise in tuition was reported. 


July 12: In a June 26 email, College of Business Administration Dean Emeritus Charles Crespy announced his retirement. On July 12, Provost Michael Gealt appointed Karl Smart to serve as interim dean following Crespy's retirement Sept. 30.

July 21: EA Sports, a video game company, announces that former CMU wide receiver Antonio Brown will be on the cover of Madden 19. "To be on the cover is a real honor I've wanted to always have because I have so much connection with the game," Brown told ESPN. 

July 27: Ponder Coffee Company owners Aaron and Christie Cromar announced they would open a second location of their popular coffee shop closer to campus. The new location is on Franklin St., in the building that used to house the Dreamer Coffee Shop.

July 31: President Emeritus George Ross stepped down as CMU's 14th president on July 31. Provost Michael Gealt was named interim president on July 30.


Aug. 3: The CMU Board of Trustees appointed Robert Davies as CMU's 15th president. Davies previously served as president of Murray State University in Kentucky. His first day at CMU was Sept. 1.

Aug. 22: Twenty-two years after its inception, Leadership Safari drew a record number of freshman in 2018. Roughly 1,900 student attended — 80 percent of this year's freshman class. There were 320 out-of-state students that attended and 120 international students.

Aug. 23: Tony Poljan emerges as CMU’s starting quarterback for the 2018 season. That didn’t last long however, as the Chippewas made multiple quarterback changes during the worst season in CMU history. 

Aug. 28: The Mount Pleasant Police Department reported a significant decrease in violations during Welcome Weekend compared to previous years, many of which were 50 percent lower. Although MIP's and open intoxicant violations went down, nuisance party violations rose to almost four times the number in 2017.

People party at a house during Welcome Weekend on Aug. 25, 2018 on Gaylord Street.


Sept. 12: Communications faculty member Alysa Lucas was recognized for her enthusiasm and ability to tie pop culture references into course material.

Sept. 17: The Down Under Food Court reopened after a 4-inch cast iron sewer pipe broke beneath the cafeteria's floor. The maintenance issue was discovered a week before classes started. 

Sept. 22: New starting quarterback Tommy Lazzaro steps in to provide CMU football its first and only win of the 2018 season. After the win against Maine, he was named the starter. 

Sept. 26: Mount Pleasant water was deemed safe after joining the growing list of more than 30 sites in Michigan containing a contamination of per and polyfluoroalkyl substances — also known as PFAS.

Sept. 27: The Central Michigan University Board of Trustees unanimously voted to support the construction of the $32.5 million Chippewa Champions Alumni Center. 

Chippewa Champion Center north side view


Oct. 9: Phi Sigma Phi was permanently removed from Central Michigan University forever. The removal of the fraternity was made known through a campus-wide email from the university that cited significant safety concerns as a reason for the fraternity's removal. 

Oct. 11: Rachel Wilson’s story of sexual assault and sought justice was shared with the public. The graphic story of her alleged assault by former SGA president Ian Elliott eventually inspired Attorney General Bill Schuette to call for a reinstatement of Elliott’s previously dropped charges. 

Rachel Wilson is a first-year graduate student at Central Michigan University.

Oct. 15: Michael Stinson, computer science department faculty member of 30 years, died at age 70 in his home in Mount Pleasant. He was known for caring about his students’ successes and having an excellent rapport with not only his students, but faculty as well. 

Oct. 20: The Central Michigan University Police Department reported the least active Western Weekend in decades with eight total violations. While rainy weather was a factor, the low turnout and downturn of violations mirrored the decreased student activity during Welcome Weekend this year.

Oct. 20: CMU football loses to WMU, 35-10. In Bonamego’s tenure as head coach, he only beat the Broncos one time in 2017. 

Sophomore quarterback Tony Poljan takes a practice rep before kick off on Oct. 20 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

Oct. 31: James Eric Davis Jr. was declared competent to stand trial for the murder of his parents on March 2 in Campbell Hall.


Nov. 6: Gretchen Whitmer was elected as Michigan’s 49th governor on Nov. 6. Along with Whitmer, Garlin Gilchrist was elected as the Lieutenant-Governor. In other elections, Sen. Debbie Stabenow was elected as Michigan’s U.S. senator for her fourth term. 

Nov. 7: When students returned to their dorm on Nov. 7 in Sweeney Hall, they saw that a racial hate message had been written on their white board hanging on their door. The message said “Fuck u black money whores.” This incident resulted in a call to action from the students affected and the NAACP chapter at Central Michigan University. A day after the incident, a rally took place, where the women affected had four demands to the university.

Nov. 12: At its Nov. 12 meeting, the Student Government Association addressed sexual assault for the first time following the story of CMU graduate student Rachel Wilson, who said former SGA President Ian Elliott sexually assaulted her in 2016.

Nov. 13: On Nov. 13, the City of Mount Pleasant introduced its new brand “Meet Here.” The brand is an open-ended phrase that is community members and add to. For example: “Mom and pops meet here,” “Messy hands meet here. Many backgrounds meet here.”

Nov. 23: After the losingest season in CMU history, football head coach John Bonamego was fired. The firing came less than a year after Athletic Director Michael Alford signed him to a five-year extension. 

Head coach John Bonamego high-fives his players as he celebrates a touchdown on Oct. 6 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. 

Nov. 26: Police believe former CMU strength and conditioning coach Aaron McLatcher stole Adderall out of baseball players lockers. He was under investigation from the university before he resigned and went to Davenport. 

Nov. 23: While driving back to CMU after Thanksgiving break, Iron junior Molly Sheehan died in a car accident in Montcalm County. She was 21 years old. Sheehan’s vehicle was heading north on M-66 when it crossed the center line, striking an oncoming vehicle. 


Dec. 2: Jim McElwain is introduced as the 26th head football coach at CMU. McElwain signed a five-year contract with at least $640,000 in annual compensation. 

From left-to-right, Athletic Director Micheal Alford, Football Head Coach Jim McElwain and University President Bob Davies talk the football program's future on Dec. 3 at the John G. Kulhavi Events Center.

Dec. 3: During a motion hearing for sexual assault charges to be reinstated against former Student Government Association President Ian Elliott, two Isabella County Trial Court judges recused themselves. A next court date it yet to be set until a new, visiting judge is found. 

Dec. 6: During the last formal meeting of 2018, the Central Michigan University Board of Trustees approved the first year of Residence Life improvements, which includes the demolition of Barnes Hall. 


About Emma Dale

Editor-in-Chief Emma Dale is a junior from Grand Haven double majoring in journalism and political ...

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