PITTSBURGH (AP) — The president of Duquesne University has apologized for suggesting that students who move off campus do so to pursue a "libertine lifestyle" of drinking and sex.
President Charles Dougherty said he was talking about construction projects at a recent campus town hall meeting with employees and noted an increase in the number of students moving off campus for their junior and senior years.
It was in that context, Dougherty said, that he suggested that living off campus "allows for greater access to alcohol, sometimes in violation of state law," and "sexual behaviors that we cannot accept on the campus of a Catholic university."
"We know these things from multiple reliable sources," he said in a statement Friday, but he said he didn't mean to imply that every student moves for such reasons.
Dougherty apologized "to anyone who took my remarks to imply that I believe this."
An outcry from students, parents, alumni and others followed word of the remarks in The Duquesne Duke, which quoted Dougherty as having said that officials were aware of "the Mardi Gras" off campus "every weekend."
"We know why they move off campus," the newspaper quoted him as saying. "They (flout) the state liquor laws, and they live a libertine lifestyle that is not allowed on campus."
In an editorial on Thursday, the newspaper took issue with the word "libertine" and suggested that students were likely seeking cheaper accommodations, citing campus room and board prices that can be double the cost of living in an apartment in nearby neighborhoods.
The university, based in Pittsburgh, has about 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Junior Kaye Burnet, who covered Dougherty's speech for the newspaper, said the remarks had been met with anger and "a lot of frustration" from students and parents.
"Suggesting that students are just doing it for party reasons ignores the whole concept of a family's economic status, how they're trying to save money, how they're trying to essentially raise their kids to be independent individuals," Burnet said.