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Is the Center for Human Rights needed?

BY GUEST COLUMN | DECEMBER 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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Is the Center for the Human Rights needed to protect the ivory tower from the tower of power?

Given this merry season, it is a bit unkind to say anything about the persona of anyone that someone does not know personally. However, the public face reflected by the No. 1 personality of a state institution, such as the University of Iowa, is of legitimate public concern of Iowans that foot the bill for the large compensation provided to the individual ensconced in the top position of leadership. Such a person is the major face the public looks upon when assessing how things are being run in their behalf.

The public has no obligation to defer judgment until it might be based on how such an individual is personally regarded by a board, leaders in similar positions, people that work under their supervision, or family, friends, and neighbors. Those who choose to be seen in the public eye are paid handsomely for finding it to be lonely at the top — and will be little judged on whether or not they kick the family dog or do a LBJ pick-the-pooch-up-by-the-ears.

The public persona reflected by the University of Iowa for the past few years has not been very good due to very frequent incidents involving a significant lack of human decency extended by and to all members of the UI community.

So dismal that, rather than UI management closing the Center for Human Rights, they might have strengthened and extended it to better ensure more secure human rights from the very important individuals at the tiptop and on down to and through more numerous members serving nearer the bottom.

In any organization, things can go wrong (there are varying shades of Gray, one might say).

However, the sad record of things continually going wrong at the UI suggests that a bad climate exists and that there needs to be a housecleaning — starting at the very top.

True, given all of the variables that can collide in misfortune, as Robert Burns did say, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.” Like out in New York where ’tis enough to make one wonder if President Skorton misses Iowa City as much as some folks here miss him?

Sam Osborne
Iowa City resident


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