University of Iowa President Sally Mason spoke to the Board of Regents today to address the report that found no cover-up, but flawed university polices in handling an alleged sexual assault of a female athlete. The report came from the Stolar law firm of St. Louis.
"I offer my apologies to the young woman involved in this case, to her parents, to our community, to our board, and to the citizens of Iowa," Mason said. Mason says she will take steps to make changes to address the criticism in the report.
Mason says the first issue is to work with a committee that’s reviewing at all aspects of students services. She expects a report from the committee by February. Mason says they will also work to redo room contracts to crack down on the phenomenon known as "ghosting" where students don’t stay in their assigned room. The alleged assault by two former football players took place in a "ghost" room. Mason says her efforts include changing student attitudes.
She says they will work directly with athletic director Gary Barta to foster a "culture of mutual respect, not only among student athletes, but throughout the entire student body." Mason says they want to ensure that the harassment that occurred to the young woman after the alleged assault happens to no one. Mason says the changes will move the school to a "victim centered process" and will include no informal resolutions, and a trained victim’s advocate for each case.
Mason says the firing of the vice president for student affairs and the university’s general counsel shows the quick action needed to make changes in the flawed policies. "Out task now is to move ahead, and to take those additional steps that will restore trust in our ability to maintain a safe and vibrant learning community," Mason says.
Mason says she has re-read the report since the Regents received it last Thursday and completely agrees with its recommendations and pledges to meet or exceed its recommendations without delay. Mason says she will move forward with a "zero tolerance" policy for sexual assault, and will work with experts in and outside the university to improve policies. The Board of Regents has directed all three state schools to work together to create a uniform plan to deal with sexual assault.