Richard Feldman, when he takes over as UR’s president later this month, will spend the majority of his interim tenure trying to repair UR’s reputation and to regain this community’s trust after last semester’s fumbling of campus outrage over how sexual misconduct is investigated here.
He has begun this process by communicating his ideas to the student body in a series of emails. His most recent email, sent last Friday, formally announced a the launch of a website dedicated to “cultivating a culture of respect.” The website lists a series of upcoming policy reviews, amendments, and their corresponding deadlines. Feldman also detailed the creation of a trustee committee to oversee the execution and completion of this process.
We appreciate Feldman’s transparency and directness so far. He comes off as earnest in wanting to engage in the type of empathetic leadership this community needs going forward. But we should be cautious about doling out praise so early. The bar, frankly, has been set pretty low after our outgoing administration’s performance last semester. Transparency is a solid first step, but it won’t be enough. The first of Feldman’s deadlines doesn’t arrive before April, which means there is ample time for the administration to slip into complacency.
But, all that said, this is the first time people have seen concrete deadlines for policy changes after the controversy over sexual misconduct claims against Professor T. Florian Jaeger. Deadlines ensure a level of accountability, however minute, that we did not have before. And so, we commend Feldman for stepping up. Let’s hope he stays on the path.