July 28, 2017

Purdue president calls for internal review of research program camp

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue President Mitch Daniels on Friday (July 28) appointed Alysa Christmas Rollock, the university’s vice president for ethics and compliance, to lead an institutional review and assessment of issues and decisions related to Camp DASH, an on-campus residential research program. Last week, the program was closed two weeks early after reports that adolescent participants engaged in inappropriate and potentially illegal activities.

Rollock will evaluate Camp DASH oversight and proper and prompt reporting of incidents; measures taken to establish standards of conduct; training of camp personnel; controls to address behavioral issues and ensure timely reporting of incidents; the university response to reported behavioral issues; enhancements made in response to issues; and decisions made based on those enhancements. The university’s internal review and assessment will move forward in a way that does not impede the ongoing law enforcement investigation.

There is currently an active investigation being conducted by Purdue University Police Department and Indiana Department of Child Services, and findings will be forwarded to the Tippecanoe County Prosecutor’s Office for review.

Camp DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) involved boys and girls ages 11-15 and was designed to help better understand healthy eating and curbing sodium intake during adolescence. As part of the program, participants lived on campus over two separate sessions, which were scheduled for June 10 through July 5 and July 11 through Aug. 5.

During the program’s first session, there were several physical altercations among participants and one incident in which a participant threatened another, falsely claiming he had a gun and a knife. As incidents occurred, seven participants were expelled from the program, and camp directors were instructed to provide additional participant oversight and to immediately report all subsequent incidents to Purdue police.

As the first session was nearing its end, the program was fully assessed by campus officials, resulting in a decision to conduct the second session, contingent upon the implementation of an intervention plan. That plan included hiring an adolescent behavior specialist, providing additional counselor training and directing the continued immediate reporting of all behaviors that were illegal or in violation of university policy.

On July 19, Purdue police received a report of an incident of a sexual nature among campers that had reportedly occurred several days prior. In the process of investigating that report, police became aware of additional allegations involving the study participants, most of which were attributable to a single individual. At that point, university administrators made the decision to immediately suspend the camp, and within 48 hours all participants were returned home to their families. For those families, university personnel are available to assist with questions or concerns.

None of the allegations reported to police involved misconduct by a Purdue employee or camp counselor.

Conclusions from the internal institutional review will be shared publicly to the fullest extent allowed by law. In addition to Rollock’s institutional review and assessment, research protocols are being assessed through Purdue’s Human Research Protection Program.

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