Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Vindicated

When the University of Wisconsin's Academic Staff Appeals Committee ruled 5-0 in favor of Paul Barrows Friday, a long and sad saga saw the beginnings of a thankful — and largely unexpected — conclusion. The two-day hearing that preceded the former vice chancellor's vindication was rife with surprises and revelations, leading many — including this Board — to question the sordid facts once assumed of Mr. Barrows.

Indeed, it was Susan Steingass who emerged from the ASAC hearing in the most troubling of shape, with her once-authoritative report on the Barrows affair now tattered at the seems and heavily called into question. Her investigation — the grounding this Board and so many others used to pass judgment upon the embattled administrator — suffered under cross examination from Mr. Barrows' attorney Lester Pines, as it became clear that Mr. Barrows was never afforded an opportunity to properly refute the charges against him prior to the report's completion.

Today, it seems Mr. Barrows may not be guilty of much of the harassment with which he was once charged — at the very least, his guilt has not been proved to any acceptable standard. Unanswered rumors and speculation ought not be the forces that alone sink a man's reputation, yet they appear to be the culprits in this case.

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To be sure, there is still much for which Mr. Barrows will long have to answer — including an improper (albeit legal) relationship with a graduate student and questionable complicity in the now-infamous abuse of paid sick leave.

However, the questions to now be asked are far different in scope and nature. Were the wheels of justice too slow in giving Mr. Barrows the ASAC hearing that has now revealed itself to be liberating? How did the university and Ms. Steingass allow a supposedly neutral and fair report to dodge the obvious barrier of granting the accused a right to respond? And how best to proceed from here?

We anxiously await ASAC's written recommendations. And we sincerely hope that with the publication of this document and whatever actions may follow naturally in wake, Mr. Barrows, UW and all those involved in this affair may finally begin to move on with an actual sense of justice to ease the mind.

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