Allow footage captured in post-earthquake Haiti as Graduate Research Content
- University of Florida Administration
- United States of America
The University of Florida touts itself as “a leading research institution,” and states the following on its web site with regards to student research: Graduate education and research go hand-in-hand. The great discoveries of the 21st century will undoubtedly come from the creative efforts of university faculty working closely with bright and motivated graduate students. Graduate students . . . broaden the knowledge base of their disciplines in countless ways.
Recently, the University announced its decision that Mr. Bougher and Mr. Safiullin would not be allowed to use footage gathered on a trip to Haiti after the island was struck by an earthquake on January 12, 2010, despite the fact that Mr. Bougher and Mr. Safiullin were on the island when the earthquake struck, were required to evacuate, and subsequently were unable to gather necessary footage for completion of their project.
The University of Florida, as aforementioned, prides itself on being a premier research institution that has made significant contributions to benefit countless people. Indeed, perhaps no other institution is as uniquely positioned as a university to take advantage of democratic freedoms to enhance the well being of society.
Yet, in the case of Mr. Bougher and Mr. Safiullin, it appears protocol and bureaucratic red tape trump truth and progress. It has been suggested by Provost Joe Glover that Mr. Bougher and Mr. Safiullin should have simply refocused their thesis on the Dominican Republic; not only is this suggestion culturally insensitive in that it suggests two distinct and separate nations, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, are interchangeable, but this statement also belies the University’s supposed belief in the importance and integrity of its graduate students’ research.
While the University’s ban on university-funded travel to Haiti is understandable, Mr. Bougher and Mr. Safiullin returned to Haiti through their own means, assuming all risk, knowing that the risk of traveling to Haiti was equivalent to the risk any United States citizen assumes when traveling out of the country. The students’ use of private funds only underscores their commitment to this project.