Universities Wrong to Stay Silent on Probe - Higher Education
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Universities Wrong to Stay Silent on Probe

by Associated Press

Give The Ohio State University officials credit for handling a sex abuse scandal the way it ought to be done — openly, with apparent concern for victims, and an intensive effort to get the whole truth.

One wonders why that approach does not seem to appeal to everyone.

A few months ago, it came to light that a now-deceased doctor is alleged to have been involved in sexual misconduct against Ohio State student-athletes and perhaps others on campus. His name was Richard Strauss.

Last week, The Associated Press learned Strauss had worked at five other institutions during a period of about a decade before 1978. Then, he moved on to Ohio State University. He committed suicide in 2005 in Los Angeles.

AP reporters contacted officials at the five other schools — Harvard and Rutgers universities and the universities of Pennsylvania, Washington and Hawaii.

At least Rutgers officials were willing to talk. They told a reporter they had no record of Strauss working there and were not aware of any concerns raised about him.

The University of Pennsylvania did not even bother initially to return calls from the Associated Press. The universities in Hawaii and Washington and at Harvard claimed they could not provide information about Strauss. They would not address questions about whether they were looking into his time at their institutions.

Contrast those tight-lipped reactions with what happened in Columbus, soon after Ohio State officials heard complaints about Strauss. They launched an independent investigation, made no secret of the allegations, and actively sought to find victims who had not yet come forth.

Of course, how Ohio State proceeds on the matter remains to be seen. From appearances, however, the Buckeye State’s flagship university is handling the Strauss case appropriately and without attempts to conceal anything.

Efforts to cover up or minimize scandals such as that involving Strauss almost invariably backfire. Colleges and universities find themselves targets of far more criticism than if they had made a clean breast of things.

There is another consideration, of course: Going public and making every effort to get to the bottom of a scandal is the right thing to do.

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