Without a leader the entire University suffers

There is a lack of leadership in this University manifesting itself in the actions of professors, police, major departments, and student government. It seems the distinct feeling students have on this campus of being disenfranchised is not simply because of a split campus. There is no cohesion, no one is in charge. Students come and go without much direction or connection to the University and apparently so do its departments.

Research ethics violated

A psychology professor violated professional ethics when conducting research and had his research suspended by the University when a student complained (see Page 1). Associate Professor John Broida uploaded a questionnaire to the Web page of a colleagues introductory class. The students were given extra credit by the professor if they completed Broida’s form. Students believed they were being tested on how they learn with technology (i.e. using the Internet for quizzes). Instead, they were bombarded with a variety of questions like, “Did you ever protect another family member from a parent who was drinking?” After a student complained that he was misled, Broida’s research was suspended while the University began conducting an investigation.

Broida was given approval to use the survey questions about familial dysfunction one time in 1987. University and federal regulations require yearly approval, which Broida and the University neglected to abide by.

But Broida was not conducting his research secretly. He was awarded a $200,000 private grant in 1999 to conduct his research. The University was well aware of his research idea but never bothered to ensure he was conducting it ethically.

It is a shame a student had to bring a question of ethics to the attention of the University.

Half a million?! Oops..How’d that happen?

One of the University’s largest departments, Student Development, is nearly half a million dollars over budget at last estimate. Now, I’m no math major, but I have some experience in overdrawing my account. I may act surprised when my check card is denied, but deep down, I knew my finances were running low.

Vice President of Student Development Judy Ryan claims the department has expected this and has been making cutbacks all year to prepare. I’m not sure what those cutbacks are, but they are certainly not the new positions created by Ryan over the past year. If Ryan was expecting to face a shortfall, why did she create a full-time coordinator for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, Questioning, Allied (GLBTQA), and a coordinator for the Multicultural Center (different from the director of Multicultural Student Affairs, which is different from the office of Campus Pluralism and Equal Opportunity)? These positions fill a need for students, but is creating full-time positions really a good idea with this type of budget shortfall? This is assuming the office did, in fact, anticipate a shortfall. If they did not anticipate a shortfall of at least $400,000, how is that possible?

Freedom of Access.when we feel like it

The USM Police Department is withholding public logbooks from The Free Press reporters, despite repeated requests on legal grounds. According to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) police logs are public documents (with only some information, such as 911 calls considered confidential). As advised by UMS associate counsel Todd Cabelka, Chief Beecher argues it is legal for her to read us the events in the log rather than black out confidential information and hand us the official book. This argument forces reporters to schedule a meeting with the chief and accept what she tells us at face value. This undermines one of the basic rules of journalism, not to mention federal law. Good journalists obtain copies of arrest sheets, complaints, and police activity so they can accurately report a story with evidence. It is unacceptable to expect us to simply report on only the events the police choose to read us from the log. We have an amicable relationship with the police, but they cannot expect us to believe only what we are told. By doing so, they are asking us to throw good journalism out the window. It forces us to forgo fact checking and rely on a conversation.

Now, now children.

The Student Senate issues an ultimatum, then rescinds its action a week later. A senator resigns after calling for a vote of confidence of the Senate’s executive committee. The Senate faces the challenge of managing its six employees year after year, and still fails to get it right. This year’s Senate tried to use employees as a bargaining chip in a squabble with the University. In 1994, the Senate was criticized for poorly handling its employees (among other issues) and resulted in the resignation of the Senate Chair. Last year the Senate Chair Jacob Dunton received a vote of no confidence from the Senate, following behavior misconduct. If the same problems keep happening year after year, perhaps the University should look at the system it set up instead of the Senators elected to run it.

The Senate is given the right to employ professionals, but given no training to do so. It does not have an adviser or advisory board to answer questions about professional behavior and appropriate courses of action. Essentially, each year a new set of students come into office, try and flounder through the year teaching themselves about politics, Robert’s Rules of Order, and management. This is supposed to be a university, not a secret club house. These students are given around $300,000 and power to hire and fire. Trial and error should not be the main method of education.

The Senate is a great opportunity for students to learn. They should continue to function as a government, but be given regular guidance.

Until then, the same editorial will continue to appear in the pages of this paper year after year.

Someone needs to step up to the challenge and give this University direction. There needs to be a clear sense of who is in charge. Influence from the top serves to create an atmosphere with less fragmentation, better-run departments, and more guidance. If we expect the students who attend the University to learn proper management, ethics, and exercise their legal rights, the administration must set the standard.


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