Come clean, UB
Fracking controversy calls for full disclosure
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Oh UB, you have some explaining to do.
On Aug. 23, a letter endorsed by 83 faculty and professional staff members requested transparency from the university in relation to the Shale Research and Society Institute (SRSI).
Three weeks later, there is no progress and no answers.
But on Wednesday, UB Provost Charles Zukoski sent a message to the UB community saying he was forming a committee to investigate conflict-of-interest procedures at UB.
The decision should have the school sweating.
Now it’s time for UB to step up and answer the questions.
Since allegations have begun, the university has done a lot to shrug off claims SRSI is receiving industry funding and despite its persistence, there’s been a tremendous amount of ambiguity.
Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Bruce Pitman has already stated in past interviews he is unsure of how to “satisfy the insinuations” that imply the institute has been receiving funding from the oil and gas industry.
But explain this: if the College of Arts and Sciences only has $40,000 accounted for SRSI on its budget, how did John Martin, the co-director of the institute, make $60,000 doing a job that didn’t exist until April 2012 (he has allegedly been on payroll since December 2011)?
There’s no way to tell where this money is actually coming from, though, if UB doesn’t agree to full disclosure, and as long as the money is protected by the UB Foundation, there’s no way of checking.
But money is not the only issue at hand. The school is going to have a lot of backtracking and clarifying to do, especially as outrage increases toward the highly controversial pro-fracking stance. It’s a public university and possibly the biggest component of the SUNY system. As the school’s ranking increases, its reputation cannot decrease.
The SUNY board of directors is just as confused as the protesters are. Without even realizing it, SUNY has not only found itself on the side of these “fractivists” but also with the UB faculty, echoing their requests for the school to tell all on SRSI.
Enough is enough, UB. It’s time to come forward or risk further damaging your reputation.