Chadima investigation: UW's lack of clear off-campus alcohol policy may be revisited

2012-01-26T05:45:00Z 2012-03-15T21:42:29Z Chadima investigation: UW's lack of clear off-campus alcohol policy may be revisitedDEBORAH ZIFF | Wisconsin State Journal | | 608-252-6234

UW-Madison has no clear policy governing the presence of alcohol at university events off campus, an omission revealed Tuesday night with the release of a report that found a former senior UW athletic official had supplied alcohol to students — some under the legal drinking age of 21 — at a Rose Bowl party.

The report released Tuesday night said John Chadima, former senior associate athletic director, resigned this month after a student employee accused him of sexual assault after an alcohol-fueled party in Chadima's hotel room.

The report's authors, a four-person independent panel, recommended that the university review its guidelines on alcohol at off-campus events and consider whether rules should be developed.

The panel also recommended that the university try to simplify sexual assault reporting procedures — citing confusion over navigating various state and federal laws — although the report's authors broadly praised the way the case was handled. The adult student did not want to file a police report, university police chief Sue Riseling said Wednesday.

Interim UW-Madison Chancellor David Ward on Wednesday asked university officials to review both issues, said Vince Sweeney, vice chancellor for university relations.

Athletic Director Barry Alvarez said in a statement Wednesday he was pleased the review team found his staff "acted appropriately and swiftly in reporting the allegation."

But in a letter to Ward obtained by the State Journal on Wednesday, Alvarez and Deputy Athletic Director Sean Frazier disputed parts of the report, in particular that they knew of the party hosted by Chadima.

"Barry Alvarez did not know about the party, although he is aware there have been similar parties in the past," according to the letter from Alvarez, Frazier and Associate Athletic Director Walter Dickey, dated Tuesday. "Indeed, on the night in question, John Chadima was expected to attend a dinner with Barry Alvarez."

The letter also alleges there were omissions in the timeline presented in the report. Sweeney said UW-Madison officials stand by the panel's credibility.

The letter also alleged that Riseling and former Chancellor Biddy Martin attended a party Chadima hosted before the 2011 Rose Bowl. Riseling said she didn't attend the party but said she knocked on the door of Chadima's hotel room during the party because it was loud and Martin's room was nearby.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Martin also said she didn't attend and had asked Riseling to ask the group to quiet down. She also said she didn't know underage students may have been in the room drinking alcohol.

The review panel was led by former Dane County Circuit Judge Patrick Fiedler and included Dale Burke, former assistant chief of the UW Police Department; Yolanda Garza, former assistant dean of students; and Roger Howard, former associate dean of students.

The report notes that Chadima had sponsored a party for at least four years for students and staff employees who worked "behind the scenes" in support of the football team, sometimes known as "B team" parties.

At the party in his hotel suite before the Rose Bowl this year, Chadima provided the alcohol, beer and mixers, which were purchased with gift funds, according to the report.

Alvarez told the panel that there were no specific athletic department guidelines about the use of alcohol, but he "did not recommend" that professional staff drink with students or student employees, according to the report.

"University staff with whom we talked were unaware of any university regulations that would provide guidelines for such events at off-campus facilities," the panel wrote.

Alvarez said in the statement he didn't know student employees "were involved" in Chadima's party.

"That is unacceptable, and our staff will be educated about the inappropriateness of such behavior," he said.

A university website for alcohol policy states that events held on campus need a school-issued alcohol permit.

But university events held off campus do not need a university permit if held at a hotel, restaurant or another venue with a state-issued liquor license.

Some off-campus university events with alcohol are regulated through tickets, wristbands or hired bartenders, university spokesman John Lucas said.

Dale Bjorling, chairman of the Athletic Board, said in an interview Wednesday he thinks the university needs to consider what sort of off-campus alcohol policy could be enforced.

"We don't want to be placed in a position of providing alcohol to under-age individuals," he said. "How best do we go about that?"

State Journal reporter Andy Baggot contributed to this article.

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify remarks from former Chancellor Biddy Martin.]

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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