To the Editor:
I am writing this to express my concern over the way the University is dealing with Professor Broida and his research. I think the University needs to take more responsibility than it has. Professor Broida needs to make apologies and amends where necessary. Students who were hurt by this survey may not be willing to come forward due to the sensitive issues involved with the survey. It appears that Professor Broida is getting a slap on the hand and a free pass to continue research with data that is tainted and was gained unethically. Students may not be aware that what he did was wrong, and apparently Professor Broida himself was not aware of the Institutional Review Board guidelines he should have been following. I would not like to see this pushed aside without thought to the many students that have been affected by this. The major issue I see here is unethical research and failure to follow guidelines. The University should have a system in place where research is reviewed and monitored. Were this system in place this research would not have been allowed to continue.
Junior sociology major
To the Editor:
It is always disturbing to witness the misuse of power and position. The Broida research situation is overflowing with inconsistencies which would justify further inquiry. However, based upon the comments in last week’s Free Press by Susan Vines and Joe Wood, the IRB [Institutional Review Board] is obviously satisfied with taking Broida at his word; they’re happy to end it here. One of the disturbing aspects of the IRB’s proposed recommendation (allowing Broida to use the corrupt data), is that we see the institution indiscriminately exempting themselves from the very rules of conduct and integrity which they expect and demand of each and every student. This is made more troubling when you consider the fact that Dr. Broida claims he wasn’t “aware that the rules had changed.”
In an e-mail dated Thursday, Feb. 8, 2001, Broida states, “Thanks for bringing this to my attention. This is the first time anyone has presented me with the IRB guidelines.” Here we have a professor, a published researcher no less, claiming that he doesn’t know the rules, and yet he maintains a position as faculty adviser to students who do research on human subjects. Could this be a case of manufactured situational ignorance? Is anyone paying attention? Obviously the IRB isn’t. A cynic might perceive this as an institution placing public image and funding above that of the safety and well-being of its students.
There are those who would have you believe that this is about the sensitive nature of Broida’s survey questions. This is nothing more than a diversion from the real issue. This is about Broida’s failure to comply with federal guidelines to do research on human subjects. This is about lazy research; this is about cutting corners at the expense of students. This is about a derelict IRB. This is about a lot of things, but has fairly little to do with the survey questions themselves. For the IRB to dismiss the severity of this misconduct is unspeakable.
It’s a shame to learn that the students of USM are the only ones held to standards of integrity. It’s a greater shame that the esteemed educators of this institution have been dishonored by Broida’s actions. Thoreau was so right when he said, “the most prevalent error requires the most disinterested virtue to sustain it” (1849). Are you interested? Do you care?
see website for government regulations
To the Editor:
It is great to see that even a young liberal believes that people should be held responsible for their actions. If Professor Broida conducted unethical or illegal research he should be terminated, not reprimanded. This type of behavior puts the reputation of your university in question.
Keep up the good work.