How NC’s HB2 has Impacted Higher Ed

As a North Carolina native, the controversy of the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act – House Bill 2(HB2), also referred to as the “Bathroom Bill”, has sparked many difficult conversations, not only within the state, but also among the rest of the nation. HB2 states that individuals must use restrooms and other similar types of facilities that are designated for their biological sex (1). There has been a great deal of push back related to the bill because some believe that it is discriminatory towards people whose gender identity conflicts with that which is listed on their birth certificate.

You may be thinking, “What does HB2 have to do with higher education?” It actually has affected higher education in many ways. Firstly, the bill states that “local boards of education shall establish single sex multiple occupancy bathroom and changing facilities” (1). So the bill puts a responsibility on the local boards of education to ensure that there are physical spaces that separate biological males and biological females whether leadership within the universities themselves agree or disagree with the bill.

“There’s a lot more at issue in higher education than this particular issue. I mean, come on.” – UNC President Margaret Spellings (2)

There has also been a lot of conversation surrounding the fact that federal funds that are provided to universities could potentially be cut because of ties to the bill. It is reported that about $2 billion was spent using federal funds in relation to higher education and adult education in previous years (3). There is the potential for losses of grant funding and also Title IX money (3).

The bill has also affected college athletics. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has moved many games out of the North Carolina region. While Charlotte has often been a host to championship games, it is now being boycotted as a place to hold athletic events in protest of the bill.

In my personal opinion, the Bathroom Bill has put North Carolina Universities between a rock and a hard place. It seems like they don’t have a choice but to cooperate, however, funds could potentially be withdrawn due to discriminatory practices. I also think about the implications this bill has on the students. All students need to feel safe, however it is clear that the bill does not send a message of inclusiveness. Regardless of how one feels about the bill, I have a difficult time understanding why the bill needs to be put in place when there is not a way of enforcing it anyway. Are universities going to have guards at the front of the bathrooms asking for birth certificates?






(4) (photo)

Ethics: How Informal Research Communication Matters Too

Before choosing a case summary to focus on, I browsed through the majority of them, making sure to read through a few cases from each year. There were two themes that caught my eye in relation to the ORI case summaries as a whole. The first thing I noticed was that most of the cases stemmed from disciplines of human medicine. As medical school and medical research can be very strenuous and competitive, I wonder if this type of environment contributed to some of these situations. The second thing I picked up on was that many of the cases were related to the manipulation of data: changing the number of participants, manipulating graphs, removing certain subjects, etc.

One question that I did have while browsing through the case summaries was about the different roles of responsibility within research. If a graduate student knowingly manipulated data, would the Principal Investigator (PI) also be held accountable if he/she knew about the manipulation of data? It looks like most of the case summaries are specific to those with full time positions rather than the graduate students themselves.

I chose to go into more detail about the case summary of Brandi Lyn Blaylock. This was one of the cases where the individual was actually a former graduate student at Wake Forest’s School of Medicine (1). This one was of interest to me because unlike many of the other cases, it mentioned ways in which research was falsified/fabricated in outlets other than publications. Brandi Blaylock falsified or fabricated data that was used in poster presentations, at lab meetings, and during grant updates (1). Falsified/fabricated data was presented that implied that monkeys responded to specific compounds when these compounds were not administered via the protocol (1). The repercussions following the misconduct included supervision of research duties, future institutions of employment submitting resources in conjunction with the respondent, and exclusion of serving in PHS leadership roles (1).

I was a bit surprised that poster presentations were included in this and even more surprised that lab meetings and grant updates were named. From my personal experience, lab meetings and grant updates serve more as a verbal means of communicating research rather than by means of writing. This case summary is a good reminder for us as graduate students that we can (and should) be held accountable for informal means of communicating research in addition to formal publication.


Lots of Acronyms! – Codes of Conduct in Food Science

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is the primary professional organization for those involved in Food Science and Technology. Its members can include individuals from the food industry, government bodies, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions. On their website, a Professional Code of Ethics is listed (1). The Professional Code of Ethics is geared towards Certified Food Scientists (CFS) and those that are seeking the credentials. I found it interesting that this Professional Code of Ethics is not broader in who it applies to as the majority of IFT members are not CFS. Many of the conditions are similar to those spoken about in class. One of the standards states that conduct that violates the Code of Ethics must be reported to the International Food Science Certification Commission (IFSCC). This body of individuals ensures that credential programs meet the standards of the International Standards Organization (ISO). There were also many points about avoiding and/or disclosing any conflicts of interests.

IFT also has a Code of Professional Conduct for its members (2). These consisted of six statements that were expanded upon in much further detail individually. The overarching themes included representing data/information in an accurate and unbiased manner and furthering the professional organization as a whole.

Also a professional organization, the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) serves a subset of the larger population of Food Scientists. IAFP specifically engages Food Scientists that are involved in food safety. Guidelines for Ethical Conduct have been established for its members (3). These guidelines were very similar to that of IFT, but there was an additional emphasis on collaboration, assisting colleagues, and giving credit to others when necessary. I liked the statements about collaboration because although we shouldn’t have to have a written code establishing fairness and effective communication with colleagues, it is fairly common to witness scientists wanting to keep their data to themselves instead of extending the work with other professionals or groups.

I attempted to see if the Department of Food Science and Technology here at Virginia Tech had their own code of conduct for students. The only thing I could find that was similar to a code of conduct were expectations found in the Graduate Handbook -a bit of a stretch. These expectations referred back to Virginia Tech’s policies again and again.