Monday, March 23, 2015

"I apologize for being so blunt, but apparently someone has to be."

Submitted by Chuck Turchick to the Minnesota Daily:
When someone dies as a result of alleged misconduct or alleged inadequate protections, it may be an exaggeration to say the cover-up was greater than the offense, but in the Markingson case there was clearly a cover-up by more than one University administration.
And now there is even a cover-up of the cover-up. President Kaler, in a March 18, 2015, letter responding to the Legislative Auditor's report, wrote: "If these external reviews were flawed, we were not aware of those shortcomings."
I have not been following this controversy all that closely over the years. But even my limited reading on the matter has made me aware that professors in the University's Center for Bioethics -- Professor Carl Elliott and more recently Professor Leigh Turner -- for years have been pointing out the flaws in those external reviews, many of which flaws Legislative Auditor Nobles repeated in his report.
For President Kaler to claim he was not aware of those shortcomings, he has either been intentionally hiding his head in the sand or he is lying. I apologize for being so blunt, but apparently someone has to be.
In that same letter and in his oral testimony before the Minnesota Senate committee that received the report, President Kaler apologized to the family of Dan Markingson. However, missing from that apology was any reference to the University not acting more forthrightly with respect to questions raised over the past 11 years.

Now various committees are going to implement the recommendations of the more general external review of the U's Human Subjects Protection Program that was completed last month and address the failings cited in the Legislative Auditor's report. Some of those committees will be comprised of people external to the University. But no mention has been made of the expertise right here on campus in the form of medical ethicists in the Center for Bioethics, the people who have been asking the questions.
The administration ought to include on those committees those people who for years have raised the very questions specified in these two recent reports. Regrettably, however, the administration is not even willing to talk to those whistleblowers.
With this record and with this ongoing shunning of those who should be praised for raising the necessary questions, the words above Northrop Auditorium -- "dedicated to the advancement of learning and the search for truth" -- ring hollow.
Chuck Turchick
Alumnus and Continuing Education student

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