The Government Accountability Project will bring its American Whistleblower Tour: Essential Voices for Accountability to Indiana University this month, with programs March 27 at IUPUI and March 28 at IU Bloomington. The American Whistleblower Tour is aimed at educating the public — particularly university students — about the phenomenon and practice of whistleblowing. The IU events, which are free and open to the public, will feature Rick Piltz, who blew the whistle on White House censorship of global warming studies, and Kenneth Kendrick, who revealed food safety problems tied to a salmonella outbreak.
“Whistleblowers have made incredible differences for citizens across the world, actions that often result in innocent people being protected from deadly products,” said Dana Gold, tour director and Government Accountability Project senior fellow. “Whistleblowers should be recognized, protected and honored, and that’s what our tour is all about.” The program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. March 27 in Hine Hall Auditorium. The IU Bloomington program will be from 2 to 3:30 p.m. March 28 at Whittenberger Auditorium in the Indiana Memorial Union. Piltz and Kendrick will also present classroom talks to students at IU Bloomington. “We’re excited to bring GAP’s Whistleblower Tour to our campus and have students hear from these brave individuals who made tough ethical decisions for the sake of public health, transparency and accountability,” said Richard B. Miller, IU Provost Professor of Religious Studies and director of the Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions, one of the sponsors of the tour stops. “Many of us encounter some type of organizational wrongdoing at some point in our careers,” added Janet Near, Coleman Chair of Management at the Kelley School of Business, who initiated the idea of bringing the tour to IU. “The GAP tour will provide audience members a chance to hear from others about the consequences of various actions and allow us to consider how we would behave if confronted with similar situations in the workplace.”
About the speakers
- From Sept. 1, 2008, to April 20, 2009, salmonella-tainted peanut butter originating from Peanut Corp. of America plants sickened 714 people across 46 states, contributing to nine deaths. Before the outbreak, Kenneth Kendrick, the former assistant plant manager with the company in Plainview, Texas, had made multiple attempts to alert state and federal officials to public health violations. Kendrick’s whistleblowing on ABC’s “Good Morning America” belied the company’s defense that the batch of salmonella-tainted peanut butter from a Georgia plant was an unexpected and isolated event.
- Rick Piltz is a former senior associate in the coordination office of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program. In 2005, he blew the whistle on the White House’s editing and censorship of science program reports on global warming intended for the public and Congress. GAP, which represented Piltz, released edited reports to The New York Times documenting the actual hand-editing that was done to downplay human-driven global warming and its harmful impacts, and to exaggerate scientific uncertainty.
The IU tour stops are sponsored by GAP and by the Poynter Center, College of Arts and Sciences, Hutton Honors College, Kelley School of Business Bloomington and Indianapolis, Maurer School of Law, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Department of Political Science, Department of Communication and Culture, Wells Scholars Program, Political and Civic Engagement Program and Liberal Arts and Management Program.
About the tour
The Indiana University stops are the eighth and ninth tour stops this academic year. During 2011-12, the American Whistleblower Tour visited 13 colleges and universities. Goals of the tour include raising awareness about the vital role of whistleblowing in our democracy, preparing America’s youth for ethical decision-making, countering negative connotations associated with whistleblowing, connecting prospective whistleblowers to available resources and encouraging academic studies of whistleblowing.