Reynolds Rumors Run Rampant

Reynolds Rumors Run Rampant

           It has now been over one month since Reynolds Science Center closed due to a chemical spill reported by a faculty member on Oct. 8. In that time, the source of the spill was revealed to be benzyl chloride, a chemical associated with the production of meth. Rumors have since swirled around campus about the true cause of the spill and the people allegedly involved. 

            According to multiple reports from students, three employees have been put on administrative leave in relation to the spill: Wray Jones, Assistant Professor and Chemical Hygiene Officer; Terry Bateman, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Director of Research; and Bradley Rowland, Associate Professor of Chemistry. Reporters from The Oracle attempted to confirm these rumors with Angela Boswell, Dean of Ellis College, and Tina Hall, Associate Vice President of Marketing Communications. Our questions regarding the employment of the professors were met with a refusal to discuss employee relations.

            According to The Freedom of Information Act, state funded institutions are required to provide information regarding the spending of tax dollars upon request. All records in these institutions are also considered to be public: Public records” means writings, recorded sounds, films, tapes, electronic or computer-based information, or data compilations in any medium, required by law to be kept or otherwise kept and that constitute a record of the performance or lack of performance of official functions that are or should be carried out by a public official or employee, a governmental agency, or any other agency or improvement district that is wholly or partially supported by public funds or expending public funds. All records maintained in public offices or by public employees within the scope of their employment shall be presumed to be public records.

            The Oracle staff has sent Acting President Elaine Kneebone a FOIA request for information regarding the employment of Wray Jones, Terry Bateman, and Bradley Rowland. We also requested information regarding any ongoing criminal investigation into the professors and a list of all the chemicals ordered in the last two years by any faculty members or students of the Chemistry department at Henderson. Our final request was for documentation regarding Henderson’s financial relationship with the third party company that conducted air quality testing of Reynolds.

            During our interview with Tina Hall, she stated that there is an ongoing university investigation into the incident at Reynolds. While Ms. Hall was unable to confirm or deny any other information, The Oracle interviewed students about their personal experiences with the missing professors. 

            Emily Massey, a sophomore biology major who was a student of Professor Bateman’s this semester, told The Oracle that Bateman was replaced by Dr. Schranz who told the class that Prof. Bateman may or may not return. Professor Rowland’s classes have been replaced by Dr. Long, according to Henderson student Zyra Black. It is unknown to us at this time who Professor Jones has been replaced by.

           Despite not teaching this semester, all three professors are currently set to teach classes next semester, according to the course listings on CampusConnect. While a lot of information regarding the incident at Reynolds is still up in the air, it is Henderson students’ right to know what their tax dollars and tuition money are being spent on. 

          We also feel it is important to reveal any criminal activity that may have occurred on campus. The Oracle will report the information gathered from our FOIA request and any subsequent news regarding the Reynolds incident.