ALBANY, N.Y. -- In his first public, scheduled and media-open appearance since an alleged hate crime between UAlbany students, the university's president declined to answer questions Monday, citing an ongoing criminal investigation.
Dr. Robert Jones walked silently as a Time Warner Cable News crew asked him for comment, nine days after three young black female students claimed they were attacked because of their race by a group of 10 to 12 white students.
The encounter with Jones came directly after a nearly two-hour joint legislative budget hearing, where Jones testified on higher education. Jones later released a statement to TWC News, explaining that he cannot offer his thoughts on the case.
"This matter is currently in the hands of the District Attorney’s office, and is part of an ongoing investigation," Jones said in the statement. "Until that investigation is complete, there is nothing new to report."
SUNY chancellor Nancy Zimpher, who also appeared at the hearing, was not restrained by the same conditions but could not offer much on the case, only praising the university's handling of the situation.
"I've been very pleased with the way the entire university population has dealt with the story, as it has unfolded," Zimpher said, also reserving special praise for Jones.
"I do think that he's an incredibly accessible president," she said. "I think that he's probably waiting for more information and choosing to be available when he has more."
Monday marked nine days since the alleged race-fueled assault on a CDTA bus, which was returning to UAlbany's campus from downtown Albany. Campus cultural groups initially held a rally in support of the three black women who called themselves victims, and accused an unnamed group of kicking them, punching them and using racial slurs.
Since then, at least one cell phone video has emerged which does not depict a gang assault. Several black community leaders viewed a more comprehensive video account, provided by CDTA surveillance cameras, and also said they could not see a gang assault.
The alleged victims have not commented publicly for more than a week. A district attorney's investigation into the matter continues.