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Rider President breaks silence and defends Dean and Adviser

All: This blog has been critical of Rider University President Mordechai Rozanski’s silence with regard to either defending or condemning his embattled staffers Campbell and Badgley.

Rider today posted his strong letter today on its web site.
August 13, 2007 – To the Rider University Community,

I am writing to update you on developments in the Mercer County Prosecutor’s investigation as well as our preparation for the new academic year.

I want to begin by thanking everyone who has sent expressions of support for Dean of Students Tony Campbell and Director of Greek Life Ada Badgley, for our student affairs staff and for the entire Rider community.

We were surprised by the charges against Tony and Ada. We know that neither Tony nor Ada was present at the fraternity house, nor did they engage in any of the activities outlined in the Prosecutor’s press release of Aug. 3, 2007.

We continue to support Tony and Ada during this difficult time. Both Tony and Ada have asked the University for a leave of absence so that they may prepare their defense to the charges against them. I have approved their request and have granted them a paid administrative leave of 30 days, beginning today, August 13, 2007. At the end of that time, we hope to have more information, and then we will evaluate the situation and determine next steps.

In the interim, Jan Friedman-Krupnick, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs who has served alongside Tony for the past eight years, will assume day-to-day coordination of student affairs responsibilities, including preparing for the opening of the fall semester. She will be supported by our dedicated student affairs administrators and staff. When needed, Jan will be in contact with Tony for information. Cassie Iacovelli, Assistant Dean for Campus Life will be supervising the Greek Life area and be in contact with Ada as necessary.

In order to permit Jan and the student affairs staff to focus on student affairs issues, the office of public safety will report to my office via Debbie Stasolla. I know that our community will offer Jan and her colleagues all the support they need.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Steven and Associate Vice President for Planning Debbie Stasolla will also provide support to student affairs as needed, particularly in coordinating the implementation of the recommendations of the Task Force on Alcohol, Personal Responsibility and Student Life for the fall semester. In that regard, among other initiatives, we have implemented or are implementing:

* the campus-wide policy that prohibits social events with alcohol in residence halls and Greek houses (confining them to registered events in licensed and supervised venues on campus),
* the Good Samaritan policy that encourages students to seek immediate help for medically comprised students without facing campus repercussions, and
* the use of the on-line Alcohol.Edu education program as a component of the freshman seminar program, and strengthening alcohol policy sanctions including parental notification.

In addition, we expect to complete the staff additions by the start of the fall semester. These include two additional full-time public safety officers, one for each campus; a substance abuse education and prevention specialist; and the residence-based directors in Greek houses. Four of the six new Greek house directors have already been hired. They begin their employment on August 20, providing ample time for comprehensive training.

This has been a sad and painful time for our colleagues and our entire community, including the DeVercelly family. But we are a caring and resilient community, and we will emerge an even stronger one.

As I am sure you can appreciate, the legal focus of this incident may restrict the amount of information we can share moving forward. It is important that the individuals who have been charged have the opportunity to defend themselves. We will continue to cooperate fully, but it may not always be possible or appropriate for us to comment publicly on various aspects of the case, as it moves forward.

I will keep you informed, as it is appropriate, when there are new developments I can share. In the meantime, please know that all of us appreciate your support and concern.

Mordechai Rozanski
President
Rider University

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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