Schneider: UMN shrugs off responsibility in Richard Liu case

Richard Liu, founder of JD.com and student at Carlson School of Business, is being investigated for rape. For the University of Minnesota, mum’s the word.

Ellen Schneider

Liu Qiangdong, also known as Richard Liu, is a Chinese billionaire and founder of JD.com. He is also a student in the Carlson School of Management’s Doctor of Business Administration Chinese-partnership program at the University of Minnesota. Liu was in Minneapolis briefly as part of the program, and was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting another Chinese student at the University.

While Liu is still being investigated by the Minneapolis Police Department and has not been charged, he was released from jail just one day after being arrested, without posting bail. Liu returned to China days after being released from custody.

The allegations have made international headlines, as Liu’s attorneys work to dispel what they call “rumors.” Liu has previously tried to distance himself from other criminal sexual assault allegations, including an assault that took place in his Australian penthouse in 2015.

The University’s failure to so much as acknowledge the alleged assault is yet another instance of our University only taking sexual assault seriously when its name is on the line. Because it is Liu, a tech tycoon with a sordid history that is in the international limelight, our administration is forgoing its accountability in the matter.  

Despite the media frenzy and ongoing investigation, our University has yet to make a statement aside from confirming Liu’s student status. This feeble attempt at brushing an alleged sexual assault with direct ties to the University under the rug is preposterous.

The University is shrugging off its responsibility in this case by failing to notify students, failing to take a stand against assaults, failing to confirm whether or not Liu is guilty and refusing to communicate an effort to investigate the incident. Transparency in these matters is an absolute necessity. 

Furthermore, with tight-lipped administration and no word on whether Liu will continue to study at the University, I can only assume that a lack of action will follow the University’s lack of acknowledgment. 

While Liu is still under investigation, the University’s involvement in the matter warrants action. It is the University’s responsibility to ensure Liu is reprimanded – if the situation requires it – and ensure other students are not also put in peril.

This University has failed time and again at properly investigating and handling sexual misconduct cases. It seems only when the Gophers’ brand is in jeopardy does the administration even acknowledge the assaults that are its duty to explore.

One such failure in a string of embarrassments involves the University’s lack of action in the case against Gianluigi Veglia, a biochemistry professor, who had accusations and complaints against him stack up for years, with the University only making a move once the case hit the media. Or, Reggie Lynch’s ability to continue practicing and participating with Gophers basketball despite multiple investigations into his conduct, only being expelled after several allegations and review. 

This is pathetic. The University has a responsibility to its students to curb sexual misconduct at all times – not only when its reputation is at stake. The University’s scattered and inconsistent discipline in sexual misconduct cases proves a general disregard for student safety.

This University’s tendency toward apathy cannot stand in this case. Liu needs to be held accountable, no matter how wealthy and powerful he may be. The lack of recognition is a general disregard of the administration’s responsibility in these cases. We cannot stand for it, and if the administration needs to be persecuted in order for them to take action, then let us be the ones to do so.