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The Culture of Cover-up

Large institutions, which includes universities, have one sacred cow that they will do anything to protect. Image!

The guilt or innocence of individuals is of little concern. Purporting to hold themselves to a higher standard, institutions will often close whole departments or programs to protect their precious image. Institutions will do anything to disassociate themselves from bad publicity. This type of institutional disregard for the hardship to be inflicted on innocent employees and their families is a prescription for cover-up.

. Let’s face it! A graduate assistant who accuses a beloved superior , without video evidence or multiple witnesses, will often find himself a disgruntled ex-employee with little hope of future employment. Thank God, Pennsylvania has a whistleblower law. As it was, instead of being applauded for courage in trying to step up and correct a wrong, you are demeaned for not doing enough.

It’s easy to talk ethics, but reality is something else. The vast majority of people will follow the prime rule of survival- Protect yourself and your own family first. There is an old conundrum- If you have two of your children drowning and you can only save one, which one do you save? Substitute a neighbor’s child for one of the drowning children and most people would find the solution simpler. Do we really expect people to jeopardize the ability to take care of their own families?

If we do, perhaps it’s time to pass laws to protect the innocent individual from large institutions and their lack of concern with the hardship they inflict on the innocent. The institutional solution of eliminating anything and everyone associated with a problem only leads to more cover-ups.

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