Two notable departures from top universities this month have one in common: curious student journalists.
Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne announced Wednesday that he will resign from his post and retract three decades-old research papers, after an independent review of his scholarly work was prompted by coverage in the campus newspaper, the Stanford Daily.
Last week, Northwestern University fired its head football coach, Pat Fitzgerald, after the student newspaper, the Daily Northwestern, reported that his players had engaged in ritual gambling.
Successive revelations have highlighted the important role of university newspapers in holding the powerful institutions they house to account.
“I think it’s pretty clear that without our reporting, this report wouldn’t have come through,” said Theo Becker, investigative editor for the Stanford Daily.
Mr. Becker, 18, resurfaced in a Nov. 29 article in the Stanford Daily that research papers in neuroscience in which Dr. Tessier-Lavigne is listed as either lead author or co-author have altered pictures. The claims have been repeated over the years on PubPeer, a website that allows scientists to discuss research.
The next day, Stanford University opened an investigation into Dr. Tessier-Lavin with a team of outside scientists. Their report, released Wednesday, found that Dr. Tessier-Lavigne “did not personally engage in research misconduct” for the 12 papers reviewed by the panel, but that some papers did show research data that had been manipulated by members of his laboratories and that Dr. Tessier-Lavigne had not taken sufficient steps to correct the record.
But their report rejected a claim made by the Stanford Daily in feb that a 2009 paper on Alzheimer’s disease written by Dr. Tessier-Lavigne when he was an executive at biotechnology company Genentech was the subject of an internal review that found falsified data and that Dr. Tessier-Lavigne had misrepresented it. Dr. Tessier-Lavigne denied these allegations.
“This claim appears to be false, as reported by Genentech,” the committee’s report said, though it noted “multiple problems” with the 2009 study.
Koshiki Nayudo, editor-in-chief and president of the Stanford Daily, said in a statement Wednesday that the paper stands by its reporting.
“It was never reported to the Daily that Marc Tessier-Lavigne was personally involved in the manipulation of research,” she said. “We had access to different information and sources from the commission, which acknowledged that it did not grant the sources anonymity. It is possible that different conclusions could be reached based on these differences in process.”
Baker declined to comment on the criticisms in the report. but in condition Published Wednesday after the review was released, Mr. Baker reported that some witnesses refused to speak to the Stanford panel because they were not guaranteed anonymity and that the panel was aware of additional allegations that were not included in the final report.
Mr. Baker is the son of the New York Times’ chief White House correspondent, Peter Baker, and Susan B. Glaser, writer for The New Yorker. In February, he became the youngest recipient of a Polk Prize for his investigation of Dr. Tessier-Lavigne.
“More than anything else, to me, this should spark conversations about the value of student journalism,” Mr. Baker said. He added, “If you like a place, and I really like Stanford, you want to push it to be more transparent.”
At Northwestern, a gambling scandal ripped through the football program. that conditionWritten by Nicole Marcus, Alice Brown, Cole Reynolds and Divya Bhardwaj on 8 July They report the extent of allegations of hazing among university football players, including forced nudity and forced sexual acts, show how the university mishandled its investigations into hazing, and put Mr Fitzgerald, the coach, on suspension for just two weeks.
Two days later, journalists followed up with article On racial culture in the football program. It was Mr. Fitzgerald Disqualified that day. (Mr. Fitzgerald said in a statement to ESPN at the time that he was “surprised” and that his agent and attorney would “take the necessary steps to protect my rights in accordance with the law”).
Pushing Student Achievement a lawsuit v. Northwestern and Mr. Fitzgerald filed Tuesday by a former Northwestern football player who alleges harassment, physical abuse and racial discrimination.