July 22, 2008
President Mason responds to Regents' request
Following is the text of a statement presented today to the Board of Regents, State of Iowa by University of Iowa President Sally Mason:
"Thank you for the opportunity to address you today on this important matter. Let me begin by expressing my profound and sincere regret for the failure to notify you of the letters that came to the University of Iowa from the mother of the UI student who reported being sexually assaulted last fall in Hillcrest Residence Hall. I apologize for this error and for not making certain that the board had access to all information relevant to this case.
"The original thinking that federal law known as FERPA, designed to protect student privacy, prevented the letters from being shared with our Board of Regents leadership is just not tenable. There is no excuse for the failure to turn over those letters as part of the investigation that you directed the Board of Regents office to conduct in the wake of the report of the assault.
"I will make it clear to all members of my administration that our obligation to maintain the privacy of student records should never be interpreted as preventing us from sharing information that you request in pursuit of your governance responsibilities.
"To ensure that you are able to pursue those responsibilities in this particular case, I welcome any additional process that you wish to set in motion. You will have the full cooperation of the UI faculty, staff and administrators. I trust that your further review will show that those involved in this case at the UI worked hard to follow the established policies and procedures under very difficult circumstances. I welcome and look forward to insight that will provide opportunities to improve our policies, processes, and the execution of both.
"Once you have completed your work on this case, I intend to engage independent outside expertise to examine our overall handling of all sexual assault cases. The results will be informed by best practices in higher education, and the expert and his or her findings will be shared with the board. We must, and we will, demonstrate that we continue to be an institution with integrity and with an abhorrence to violence. While we can hope that we will never again have to deal with such tragic and horrific cases, hard experience teaches us that we must be prepared.
"Finally, I offer my heartfelt sympathy to the young woman and her family for the stress, the trauma, and the sense of abandonment that they have expressed. From my observations of this situation throughout, I can say, honestly and sincerely, that many people tried very, very hard to help and be helpful. Good intentions, and even good actions, cannot, however, make up for what has happened.
"Let me close again with my apology for the failure to provide this information to the board."
STORY SOURCE: University Relations, 101 Jessup Hall, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1316
MEDIA CONTACT: Steve Parrott, University of Iowa spokesman, 319-530-6972, firstname.lastname@example.org