ALBANY, N.Y. — In the face of repeated calls for penance from several university students, UAlbany's president said Friday that he will not apologize for his response to a reported hate crime on campus.
Robert Jones made the comments during a mid-afternoon news conference at his university office Friday. The gathering with local reporters came nearly one month after three female UAlbany students told police they were attacked by a group of white students on CDTA bus route 11.
The students claimed in 911 calls and police reports that they were assaulted solely because they were black. UAlbany Police announced Thursday afternoon that the claims were found to be untrue, and the trio would be charged for falsely reporting an incident. Police also charged two of the women with assault and called them "the aggressors" in the incident.
"I feel compassion for anyone who has been affected by these events," Jones said Friday.
Barely 12 hours after the incident on January 30, Jones had released a statement to the UAlbany community, which repeated the claim that "three of our students were harassed and assaulted while riding a CDTA bus." Jones also said at the time that he had "directed that the University respond rapidly and forcefully."
He explained that in his initial statement, he was bound by the police report which included the details of a hate crime.
"I had no other information to go on," said Jones. But he refused to apologize for the tenor of his original email.
"Absolutely not," he said. "Hindsight is always 20/20, but at this juncture, I would not do anything differently.
"It's not for me to decide whether or not their statements are true," Jones said of the students' claims. "We took them as they were stated in the police report, and responded accordingly."
Jones said that to his knowledge, all three young women remain enrolled at the university. They are due in Albany City Court on Monday morning to answer the charges.
The president did not rule out institutional discipline for the trio, but would not elaborate on what those penalties might be.
"We expect our students to tell the truth," he said. "I know everyone wants that process to go fast. But the code of conduct will be put into place, and any violation of our code of conduct will be looked at."