By Corinne Murdock |
A committee formed by University of Arizona (UArizona) faculty disbanded this month after they felt university officials were unsupportive of their efforts.
In a letter explaining their disbandment, the General Faculty Committee on University Safety For All informed Faculty Chair Leila Hudson and Faculty Vice Chair Mona Hymel that they feared negative repercussions if they continued their investigative efforts. Hudson had created the committee.
The committee issued a 30-page interim report in January claiming that UArizona suffers from “a glaring institutional failure” that compromises campus safety, and further accused the university of disregarding employee and student safety concerns. The committee’s primary focus on the report was the slaying of professor Thomas Meixner last October.
The accused killer, 46-year-old Murad Dervish, was denied a teaching assistant position for this spring semester by Meixner. Dervish initially sought out three other professors though he wasn’t able to locate them. The report documented Dervish’s lengthy criminal history prior to UArizona, as well as the timeline of his aggressive and predatory behavior leading to his expulsion and ban from campus.
“University officials knew about the prevalence of such violence risks but did not take necessary action to protect the victims,” stated the committee report.
The report also documented three other, unrelated cases to prove UArizona suffered from institutional failures compromising campus safety. These cases documented the alleged harassment and sexual misconduct of two male law students against two female law students; the doxxing and harassment of a female student reporter; and the police call on a student over fallout with a faculty member.
The committee further accused UArizona of suffering from a “chronic trust problem,” calling into question the competency and integrity of university administrators, the university’s capacity and willingness to address safety, and the imposition by administrators of a climate of retaliation and consequences.
The spokesman for UArizona issued a response to media outlets alleging that the committee’s work was based on “misleading characterizations and the selective use of facts and quotations.”
In order to cultivate its data, the committee engaged in one-hour listening sessions with four minority groups, and three faculty groups.
The Faculty Senate endorsed the report during a meeting last month.
The committee formed several weeks after the fatal shooting of Meixner last October.
UArizona hired consulting firm PAX Group to review and issue a report on their campus safety protocols. That report has not yet been publicized. The faculty committee was slated to issue a final report later this semester.
Members of the faculty committee were Chairwoman Jenny Lee, College of Education; Hoshin Gupta, College of Science; Jennifer Hatcher, College of Public Health; Luis Irizarry, graduate student liaison; Lisa Kiser, College of Nursing; Barak Orbach, College of Law; Christina Rocha, staff liaison; Shyam Sunder, Eller School of Management; and Lauryn White, student liaison.