|The Grove at Clarksville, Tennessee|
Campus Crest Communities CEO Ted Rollins has an MBA from Duke University, so it stands to reason that he knows a thing or two about business. But Rollins must have skipped classes for the marketing component in Duke's MBA program. How else can you explain Rollins' approval of the slogan "fully loaded" for the student-housing complexes his company builds under The Grove banner?
Was no one at the company capable of looking ahead and seeing that an unfortunate event likely was to happen at one of their facilities, bringing a dark and ironic twist to the term "fully loaded." Such an event happened recently when 23-year-old Shardae Wright was shot to death in her apartment at The Grove in Clarksville, Tennessee, near Austin Peay State University. Nicholas Rico Durant, Wright's boyfriend, has been arrested and charged with murder.
This was not the first time "fully loaded" has taken on a dark meaning in relation to a Grove site--and it surely will not be the last. Does the company plan to continue with that marketing campaign? We put that question to Ted Rollins in the wake of Shardae Wright's shooting death, but he has not responded to our message.
Rollins has been the subject of numerous posts at Legal Schnauzer because of Rollins v. Rollins, a divorce action he initiated in Alabama that left his ex wife and two daughters on food stamps here in Birmingham. For good measure, Rollins has a $26.3-million Grove project planned at Auburn University. Once completed, that complex should liven things up at the "Loveliest Village on the Plains."
It's been almost two years since Sherry Carroll Rollins contacted me and began to talk about an ex husband who belonged to one of the nation's wealthiest families, who managed to sue her for divorce in Alabama even though she sued him first in South Carolina (where they lived), and who was launching a company to build apartment complexes near college campuses around the country.
When news broke that the company had completed a $382-million Wall Street IPO in late 2010, it was obvious this was to be a major venture, run by serious business people. So I was stunned to discover that Campus Crest Communities planned to market itself as a provider of "fully loaded" living for college students.
Anyone paying the slightest attention to American culture knows we are awash in guns and alcohol--and both tend to be available to college students. Even the most unhip folks among us know the term "loaded" has unfortunate connotations when applied to firearms and booze. You did not have to be a visionary to see that the term "fully loaded" was going to come back to bite Campus Crest Communities on its marketing fanny.
In fact, the biting started long before the shooting death in Clarksville, Tennessee. In November 2009, a man was charged with felony reckless endangerment and public intoxication after firing a gun into a woman's apartment at The Grove in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, near Middle Tennessee State University. Suspect Angelo Demetrius Leach apparently was "fully loaded" in at least two senses of the term.
In July 2011, a woman had her 2005 Nissan Altima carjacked at The Grove in Mobile, on the campus of the University of South Alabama. In that case, the assailant wielded a knife, so it's not certain he qualified as "fully loaded."
These are serious matters, and we don't mean to make light of situations where young people have found themselves in danger. That's why we put some serious questions to Ted Rollins following the homicide at Austin Peay. The CEO has stated to us several times that he would be "more than happy" to respond to written questions, and we have submitted questions via e-mail on more than a dozen occasions. He has yet to respond to any of them.
Here are the questions we asked after the shooting death of Shardae Wright:
I understand that a resident was murdered Friday evening at The Grove apartment complex near Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN.
I am developing a post about the homicide for tomorrow morning (3/7), so I wanted to give you an opportunity to comment by responding to the following questions:
* What does this incident say about security at The Grove complexes?
* What does this say about safety of students who live at The Grove, coming close on the heels of a balcony collapse at your complex near North Texas State?
* Are you concerned about your marketing theme--fully loaded living--in light of a shooting death at one of your properties?
* I wrote just this morning about allegations that you committed perjury in the Rollins v. Rollins divorce case in Alabama, and you did not respond to questions in advance of that post. What does your own apparent disrespect for the law say about the lawlessness that now seems to be permeating your apartment complexes around the country?
This is a time-sensitive story, so I would appreciate a prompt response.
Does Ted Rollins' failure to respond indicate that he simply does not care that a young woman lost her life at one of his properties? Does it mean he does not have good answers to questions about safety and security for residents at The Grove? Does it mean he doesn't know what to do about a marketing campaign gone awry?
I could see how a reasonable person might answer yes to all of those questions.