Friday, September 26, 2008

Cleaning Up After the Party

September 26, 2008, 8:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. (links to today's stories); September 27, 2008, 6:30 a.m. (links to additional stories)

"Which Would be Worse?" September 25, 2008
"Scapegoat Bites Back," September 24, 2008
"Got Questions?" September 23, 2008
"Rational Responses to Stolar and Global Finance" (includes "The Case for Mills and Jones"), September 20, 2008
"Extra: Stolar Report," September 18, 19, 2008
And, of course, the monster collection of material in Nicholas Johnson, "University of Iowa Sexual Assault Controversy -- 2007-08," July 19-present

The Party's Over; Cleaning Up Begins

[Links to today's stories at bottom of blog entry.

SPECIAL: Link to Mills Response to Stolar Report (note that the Press-Citizen has a bad link), but this one works.]

The party's over. They're shutting off the lights. The media's off in search of the next big story. The University community has shifted its focus to the Homecoming parade tonight, and another aspect of the Iowa football program: the Northwestern football game tomorrow at 11:00. (As Kembrew McLeod reported hearing "two drunk guys in downtown Iowa City joking that they didn't care how many women the football team rapes, as long as it keeps winning.")

But after that game the neighborhoods surrounding the stadium will once again be filled with flattened beer cans, broken glass, plastic cups, cardboard cases emptied of their of beer cans, and tipped over empty trash cans along with a rich variety of unidentifiable trash. But within a day or two or three the streets will have been swept and the homeowners will have crawled under their bushes and hedges to remove what's been thrown under them by fans.

Cleaning up after the football program participants' alleged rapes is proving to take a little more time.

The Regents have demonstrated their verbal facility in their review of President Sally Mason, on the one hand with a Bush-like praise of the great job she has done ("You're doing a heck of a job, Brownie"), while on the other hand refusing to raise her base pay because of her responsibility for the mess that was made of last October's alleged sexual assault by two football players.

(Meanwhile, both of those players are off playing football elsewhere -- interrupted only by the occasional need to return to Iowa City for a Johnson County court proceeding. And a three-judge panel of the Iowa Supreme Court has voted two-to-one for Pierre Pierce, the basketball player who starred in the last really big sexual-assault-by-Iowa-athlete saga (the new organizational and procedural clean-up from which was supposed to prevent the administrative chaos we've recently witnessed from ever happening again). Notwithstanding his probationary status for subsequent crimes as well, they decided it would be all right for him to leave the state, indeed the country, to play basketball in France. I've just never understood where the public could get the idea that athletes are treated differently from everyone else.)

So now that President Mason is securely back in Jessup Hall, what's left to clean up after the Regents' party?

o The Regents have yet to respond to the media's public records request for the ten-page document they received from former UI General Counsel Marc Mills, protesting his peremptory firing.

o Mills now has a lawyer of his own, but we've yet to hear what he's prepared to do legally.

o Vice President Phil Jones, also peremptorily fired, also has a lawyer, whose four-page letter and attachments we've seen (linked from yesterday's blog entry), and who seems to be prepared to pursue a wrongful dismissal law suit.

o Sheldon Steinbach, a Washington, D.C., lawyer and former general counsel for the American Council on Education, thinks they both have solid wrongful discharge cases.

o The criminal case against the two football players is going through lawyers' motions, and getting postponed, but is still very much ongoing.

o We've heard nothing from the alleged victim or her family since this whole thing blew up with regard to whether they are looking to sue the University (or may already be negotiating a "settlement").

o The Regents never have come up with "ends policies," or goals -- some metric, measurable way of answering "How would we know if she is 'successful'?" -- as promised, before handing out more added bonuses to President Mason as "incentive packages." They've now increased the incentive from $50,000 to $80,000 and reiterated that promise, but it's an exercise well worth the media and public following. (Obviously, counting the number of times she makes statements that "I expect" or "I will not tolerate" are not the kind of metrics I have in mind.)

o Athletes aren't the only students who engage in unacceptable, violent behavior. But however much praise is heaped on the UI Athletic Department by the Regents, the Stolar Partnership, and President Mason, the fact remains that at least from a public relations perspective, it's the criminal behavior of high profile athletes that gets the attention of the media, public, and public officials. What the football and basketball programs are willing to do in controlling that behavior, starting with the vetting of the quality of the recruits brought here in the first place, also deserves watching.

o Credit President Mason with mentioning yesterday at the Regents meeting the role of alcohol in well over 90% of sexual assaults. (Alcohol is involved in roughly 50%, give or take, of all crimes.) Actually accomplishing a reduction in the seriousness, number of students, and amount of binge drinking -- and its consequences -- should remain near the top of the City's and University's agenda. Given that, as the saying goes, "you get what you measure," figuring out a way to measure progress on this one should be the starting point.

o President Mason has put in place immediately a new set of interim procedures for handling sexual assaults. They need to be communicated, assessed, tweaked, and covered by the media.

o The Regents read off a list of what they want in a set of new policies, consistent across all three Regents' universities. That study, meetings, drafting, and reviewing process will be beginning soon.

o There will be a search under way for permanent replacements for Mills and Jones -- something President Mason said yesterday she'd like to have concluded this year.

Moral: Some parties take longer to clean up after than others.

What else is there? Put in a comment to this blog entry and tell me what I've left out.

Links to Today's Stories

Daily Iowan

Bryce Bauer, "Mills: Inaccuracies in Stolar Partnership Report,"
The Daily Iowan, September 26, 2008.

Amanda McClure, "Mason Apologizes to Regents," The Daily Iowan, September 26, 2008, p. A1.

Lauren Sieben, "Regent: No 2nd Thoughts," The Daily Iowan, September 26, 2008, p. A1 ("Former UI Provost Michael Hogan, who was denied the UI presidency in 2006, this week turned down a $100,000 bonus for exemplary service as the president of the University of Connecticut.").

Amanda McClure, "No Raise for Mason," The Daily Iowan, September 26, 2008, p. A1.

Des Moines Register

Ben Fornell, "U of I to control student 'ghosting' rooms," Des Moines Register, September 28, 2008 ("Ghosting is hard to track on the campuses of Iowa's three public universities, but it became an issue in an alleged assault case at the U of I last fall. A Hillcrest Hall room involved in the alleged sex assault was unoccupied. It had been assigned to two Hawkeye football players, but they were living off campus.").

Staff, "Mills Insists He Did Not Botch Assault Case," Des Moines Register, September 26, 2008; William Petroski, "Fired lawyer offers rebuttal," Des Moines Register, September 27, 2008.

Editorial, "Lesson for Regents: Opt for Openness," Des Moines Register, September 26, 2008 ("Both the regents and Mason must rebuild Iowans' confidence in their management of the university. Secrecy won't help.").

Editorial, "Policy Change a Good Step, But Follow-Through is Key," Des Moines Register, September 26, 2008.

Lee Rood, "Mason's Salary Frozen in Wake of Scandal," Des Moines Register, September 26, 2008.

Video of Board of Regents Meeting, September 25, 2008 Des Moines Register, September 26, 2008.

Video of Press Conference Following Board of Regents Meeting, September 25, 2008 Des Moines Register, September 26, 2008.

The Gazette

Diane Heldt, "Mason: School failed student who sought help; Regents support UI president but deny pay increase," The Gazette, September 26, 2008, p. A1; online as, "Regents Express Confidence in Mason After Apology, Reform Vow," Gazette Online, September 25, 2008, 9:56 p.m.

Gregg Hennigan, "Iowa's Mills responds to assault report," Gazette Online, Updated September 26. 2008 6:56 p.m.; hardcopy as "UI's Mills Responds to Assault Report," The Gazette, September 27, 2008, p. B1.

Jennifer Hemmingsen, "Mason Speech to Regents Leaves Lingering Skepticism," The Gazette, September 27, 2008, p. B1 ("[W]e learned much of the blame lay with those policy and procedure changes that were supposed to prevent another Pierce fiasco. . . . This time, [UI President Sally] Mason told regents on Thursday, the UI will get expert help . . .. In the interim, she’s put an end to the informal reporting process, named a single point of contact for people reporting sexual assaults and is requiring they be paired with a trained advocate. She says she has zero tolerance for sexual assault and misconduct and will work to create a respectful campus community. Sounds good, but I’ve been talking with fellow alums over the past couple of days and our consensus is this: We’ll believe it when we see it. We thought the problem was fixed last time. We were duped. . . . I’m keeping my eyes on what happens now. Show me, Sally.").

Iowa City Press-Citizen

Editorial, "More Questions Before UI and Regents Move On," Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 27, 2008, p. 16A.

Thomas Walz, "University Problems Aren't the Fault of Any One Person," Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 27, 2008, p. 17A.

David Roston, "Pinpointing Mills' conflict of interest," Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 27, 2008, p. 17A.

Lee Hermiston, "Mason implements changes; Appoints sexual assault response coordinator," Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 27, 2008, p. 5A ("University of Iowa president Sally Mason put into effect Friday several policy changes in the wake of a report criticizing the university's policies and procedures in responding to allegations of sexual assault.").

Brian Morelli, "Mills: I Wasn't Leading Investigation," Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 26, 2008, including a link to Mills' Response to Stolar Report; and Brian Morelli, "Mills Says He Didn't Manage Investigation," Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 27, 2008, p. 3A.

Brian Morelli, "Mason apologizes; UI president outlines interim abuse policies," Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 26, 2008, p. A1

Brian Morelli, "Regents Say Denying Raise Sends Message," Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 26, 2008, p. A1.

Michael O'Hara, "UI Fortunate to Have Sally Mason Leading the Way," Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 26, 2008 (O'Hara is President, UI Faculty Senate; this op ed column is essentially a reply to Kembrew McLeod, "Recent Events at UI Embarrassing, Disgusting," Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 22, 2008).

Brian Morelli, "Regents Stick by Athletics, Give No Raise to Mason," Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 25, 2008.

"Mason's Remarks to the Regents," Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 25, 2008 (advance speech text as released by the University).

"Regent President Statement on Mason, Athletics," Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 25, 2008.

"Mason Sends E-mail to UI Employees," Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 25, 2008.

Lee Hermiston, "Hearing for Everson, Satterfield Pushed Back,"
Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 25, 2008.

Lee Hermiston, "Satterfield Ordered to Appear, Spies Wants Separate Trials," Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 23, 2008.


"Mason announces termination of employment for Jones, Mills," University of Iowa News Release, Sept. 23, 2008.

# # #


Anonymous said...

I thought that you lived in Iowa City for a long time. You are acting like drinking at football games is something new. Its been going on since before Kinnick was built, back to the days when the football stadium was where the EPB & Library are today.

Football is more popular because I certainly have more fond memories of going to games than I do discussing comparative politics.

Anonymous said...

I find your love for Phil Jones rather disgusting, considering what a scumbucket he is and always has been.

Anonymous said...

In her comments to the Regents, Mason discounted the post-report response of Mills and Jones by reportedly saying “[t]o now come back and say ‘this is what really happened’ — I have a hard time with that."

I am concerned that so many have seemingly let this comment go without challenge. Both Jones and Mills have publicly claimed that what was relayed to the investigators was not accurately reflected in the report.

How can anyone be expected to respond to inaccuracies in an investigative report--until the report is actually released?

Anonymous said...

I hope that the Regents have stopped payment on the check to Stolar. If not, they're the biggest bunch of rubes since the ones who bought Harold Hill's trombones in River City.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone hear Karla Miller interviewed on WSUI yesterday? She's in the Rape Victim Advocacy Program at UI. She said she was waiting to see how things would really work after the media spotlight goes away. It was a very tepid endorsment of Mason's proposal. I wish I could find those comments online.

I think it's a great idea the Regents hired a group called Stolar. When the Regents paid them, they "Stolar" taxpayer dollars.

Anonymous said...

I have several concerns:

Mason doesn't seem to take any responsibility and deflects her responsibility to others based on the fact that she was only on the job 2-months. In reality, she'd been on campus, involved for about 4-months. Yet, that's irrelevant -- she was a provost at Purdue, with full responsibility for faculty, staff, and student behavior and how to handle such incidents. Although, keep in mind her failure on the research integrity issues at Purdue -- Strike 1!

Why is she being let off the hook? Why is athletics off the hook?

Post-Pierce, there was a clear policy/protocol in place that took athletics immediately out-of-the loop in a case involving their student-athletes. Ask Marcella David. Ask about the fact that Mason was informed. Where's the integrity? Strike 2.

Instead of stepping up and taking responsibility, Mills and Jones are thrown under a bus. You can say that Jones may have had past problems, but where's the evidence that either he or Mills is responsible for the mishandling of this event?

Strike 3!

The bottom line is that the Regents have to justify hiring her over Mike Hogan. That's right -- Our first choice, who went off to better and brighter alternatives in Connecticut -- where, BTW, he just DONATED his $100k bonus back to the university.

Meanwhile, Mason, in a shadow of under-performance, receives an increment to her performance bonus.

How sad. Let's see about bringing back Hogan!

Anonymous said...

The regents didn't want Hogan because he could think for himself, just like Skorton did. The regents wanted someone too dumb to think for themselves, someone who had to be told how to think. That is, by her own account, why Mason fired Mills and Jones-- they weren't telling her what to think when she needed them to!

Looks like the regents got just what they wanted with this hire. How lucky for all of us.

Anonymous said...

I think you are right, anonymous-at-8:44PM.

There are many signs that Mason is a serious liability for the integrity of the university. Yet, the Mills retort seems to suggest that Gartner continues to work the puppet strings. He's not even in the driver's seat any longer, so I wonder how it is that he is able to influence Sally Mason.

I would like to see Sally Mason respond to Marc Mills' document.

It's a little ironic that Amir Arbisser has come out in support of Mike Hogan at this point (according to the Daily Iowan). He voted against him as a presidential appointment. Yet, I have to respect his integrity for stepping up and admitting a mistake was made.

A serious concern now is why no one can comment on the Daily Iowan's articles on Mason from Friday.

I hope it is a mistake. I hope Mason is not shutting down freedom of the press and the first amendment.

--Signed, a once-proud faculty member

Anonymous said...

If anyone has any doubts about how seriously Mason is committed to future victims on this campus, all you have to do is look at her announcement regarding the new "interim" procedures for investigating assaults. Now RVAP is in charge. Sounds great. Hand all the responsibility to a unit that has been seriously understaffed and underfunded for years. And what extra resources did Mason, in her annoucement, pledge to RVAP to help it carry out its new mission? Yeah, good luck with that.

And when this new plan fails? First we'll fire a few more people (firing people is good for them! Just ask Gartner's old boss, Jack Welch), and then we'll announce bold new initiatives with rabbit's feet and four-leaf clovers.