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Mason on Lewin, campus safety

BY DI STAFF | APRIL 27, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Daily Iowan sat down with University of Iowa President Sally Mason to discuss campus security, Professor Ellen Lewin's controversial e-mail, and the nearly one-year mark of the 21-ordinance.

The Daily Iowan: The UI community heard about two reported sexual assaults that had occurred on campus this past month. Was this the first time the university's revamped sexual-assault policy was implemented in a real situation?

Mason: Well, it's certainly one of the times. I wouldn't say it was the first time without going back and reviewing all the cases. The new policies and the new ways in which we're dealing with things certainly are in place for this, and I think worked quite well, all things considered. Ideally, you'd like to not have these things happen, period.

DI: [UI spokesman Tom Moore] and [UI Sexual-Misconduct-Response Coordinator] Monique DiCarlo said the policies were strictly followed in this investigation. Did you personally have any involvement in making sure the policies were followed?

Mason: Monique reports to me, and Monique kept me informed along the way. She typically doesn't identify individuals to me, she tells me about incidents and cases. And she goes over the process that was used and what the outcome was.

DI: Will there be any official review for the handling of this incident?

Mason: I think at this point, it's closed. I think the one you're referring to is now in the hands of the law.

DI: In regards to Professor Ellen Lewin — that's generated quite a bit of attention across campus and across the nation — do you feel the calls for her resignation are justified?

Mason: I've certainly received those calls. Let me put it this way. We had several incidents this past week that were very disturbing. Starting with three young women, African-American women, who were verbally harassed on their way back to their dormitory room … And an individual using racial slurs, racial epithets — that's deplorable. Then we had a professor expressing herself in an inappropriate way, through an e-mail.

These things tell me we've got a lot more work to do on civil discourse and the importance of maintaining civility, the importance of maintaining … really, much better behavior from our faculty and in the community.



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DI: Are you concerned about the national attention these incidents have gotten, especially about Lewin?

Mason: Certainly, well certainly. It doesn't accurately reflect what our community is all about or what the vast majority of people in this community believe in — the way they talk, the way they act, the way they behave. It's certainly not been my experience in this community. I think if you ask the average person on the street that they would say something similar.

DI: After nearly a year of the 21-ordinance, many students now are complaining about the $735 base fine for being in a bar underage. Would you support the City Council lowering it?

Mason: I support the city councilors. I think they're in the best position and the wisest people to make the decision. I was proud of [UISG President] Elliot [Higgins] when he went to the City Council to make his case. I thought he did it in a very, very fine way. That's what I watch, to see how our students are responding to it. To see how well they're making their case. I think the city councilors are obviously taking it under their advisement.

DI: Some students have said paying a fine that is ultimately more than $1,000 could possibly "put them out of school." Do you identify with that point of view?

Mason: Well, they could obey the law. And start there. There's also punishment that is in line with, let's say the crime in this case. If the city councilors believes the punishment could be different for this type of infraction, then so be it. Like I say, they're in the best position to make the decision.


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