Statement from Robert J. Jones

Feb. 26, 2016

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

Yesterday’s news about the bus incident brings this situation to a new stage.

It suggests that things may not have happened the way that they were originally portrayed by our three students.

This has been an unsettling series of events for our University. I have heard from many people about this. I know it affects you. And it affects me too. I continue to be concerned about everybody who has been affected.

From the beginning, my focus has been on ensuring that our campus continues to be a safe place, and on reminding all of us of what we stand for as a welcoming, diverse University.

I have been very clear that this University does not tolerate violence, bias and hatred directed at anyone.

And I have been very clear that if any of our students were found to be responsible for violating our code of conduct, then they will be held accountable.

Our code of conduct applies equally to all of our students. And I can assure you that our conduct process is underway.

Some members of our University community have asked me about my original statement on January 30. Let me be clear about my intentions.

First, it was absolutely clear to me that the campus needed to hear from me that day.

I had to work with the information that was available at the time – which was a police incident report that contained allegations of which I know you are familiar.

Second, my response was grounded in my trust in our students. It is my expectation that every student lives up to the code of conduct, which includes telling the truth. Truth is a core value of any academic institution.

My response was also grounded in compassion. I feel compassion for each and every student at this University. And I feel compassion for anyone who feels victimized.

On the very first day that this began, I directed our police department and other units of the administration to immediately begin seeking out the truth in this matter. Now that the police investigation is complete and charges have been filed, we must step back and allow the court to determine the guilt or innocence of the defendants.

Our job as a University is to focus on learning from this incident. And our work now is to recommit to our principles of diversity and inclusivity - which means including all people and treating all people fairly.

The last month has been a challenging time for this University – but I am very proud of how our campus community responded. On the first day, I asked you to show the world what the University at Albany truly stands for, and to reaffirm our values. And you have done that.

Thank you.

Robert J. Jones