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The faculty committee that criticized the University of Arizona in the wake of professor Thomas Meixner’s murder won’t continue its inquiry.
This comes after Pam Scott, a university spokeswoman, said the committee’s January interim report “reached sweeping conclusions based in large part on misleading characterizations and the selective use of facts and quotations.”
“We encourage everyone to await the comprehensive PAX Group report,” Scott wrote in early February, referring to the group of “outside safety and security experts” the university commissioned for a review.
On Friday, members of the faculty committee wrote a letter to the chair and vice chair of the faculty.
“Our inquiry intended to complement, not duplicate or challenge, investigations of hired security experts who were selected by the university leadership and who report to the university leadership,” they wrote. “The alternative to the committee’s inquiry is exclusive reliance on external experts who were selected by the university leadership, who report to the university leadership, and whose scope of engagement is vague.”
“Together, the university leadership’s dismissive approach to the committee and withdrawal of cooperation with the committee have undermined the committee’s ability to complete its inquiry,” they wrote. “The assumption that [university] employees [with safety responsibilities] feel safe to share their concerns and experiences with experts who report to the university leadership warrants reconsideration.”
“The university leadership has also declined multiple opportunities to diffuse [sic] concerns that service on the committee might result in negative consequences, including hard and soft forms of retaliation,” they wrote.
“It is the duty of the leadership to ensure that the organization has a coherent risk oversight framework and [to] foster a healthy organizational culture,” they wrote. “The university leadership, the committee believes, failed to meet this duty and there are no indications that any steps will be made to address the concerns outlined in the interim report.”
The January report argued that many at the university should have known that an expelled graduate student now accused of the murder was dangerous—long before he allegedly shot Meixner, chairman of the Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences (HAS) Department, multiple times in his own workplace.
Yet, the report said, multiple parts of the university repeatedly failed to effectively respond. It said the alleged killer had harassed “four HAS faculty members, a female undergraduate student and a Dean of Students (DOS) administrator.”
On Wednesday, Scott, the university spokeswoman, provided a statement from Jon Dudas, the university’s senior vice president and chief of staff.
“We appreciate the work the committee put into their report and that the committee’s entire record has been made available to the PAX Group—the third-party safety and security experts conducting an independent review of the events leading up to the tragic killing of our colleague Thomas Meixner and campus security in general,” Dudas said. “The university will continue to implement actions to advance campus safety and security and looks forward to reviewing and responding to the PAX Group’s findings and recommendations.”