At a press conference earlier last week, a coalition of students, faculty and human rights groups made a push for the removal of Dean Gerald Koocher from his position as Dean of the College of Science and Health at DePaul University, arguing that he allegedly played a role in the American Psychological Association’s secret undertaking with the Department of Defense in the creation of interrogation guidelines that allowed for the torture of individuals during the Bush administration.
Referring to themselves as Vincentians Against Torture, the coalition spoke for almost half an hour in front of around 25 supporters on the issue in front of the Lincoln Park Student Center. This event is the latest to take place since the release of a 543-page Hoffman Report detailing the APA’s collusion with DoD, writes Brenden Moore for The DePaulia.
Formed and led by senior Jack O’Brien, president of DePaul’s honor society for psychological students, DePaul Psi Chi, he was instrumental in the creation of an online petition seeking the removal of Dean Koocher. To date, the petition has over 500 signatures.
“I hope Dr. Koocher chooses to act morally now and steps down as dean,” O’Brien said. “If he does not step down, our student coalition will continue to call for his immediate removal. He has proven unfit for the position of power for that he’s in. He should not oversee the education of DePaul’s health professionals.”
According to the speakers, the information released in the Hoffman report does not accurately reflect the findings the university claims to uphold.
“An academic institution like DePaul based on its Vincentian values cannot allow for a member of its faculty be involved in such situations,” said DePaul emeritus professor M. Cherif Bassiouni. “It is therefore the responsibility of the university to hold a fact-finding commission, an inquiry into whether one of its faculty member has been involved in either the commission of a crime or the commission of an egregiously immoral act, which violates the ethical values of this university.”
The report accused the American Psychological Association of conspiring with the government in 2005 in its issuance of ethical guidelines concerning interrogation techniques. The investigation found that the APA had sided with the US Department of Defense on the issue with Koocher being a past president of the APA, reports Chris Coffey for NBC5.
The report went on to say that Koocher had spoken out against the idea that the APA had tapped into international law definitions in its creation of ethical guidelines. He suggested that it would be a “distraction” to pull international law into APA’s ethical guidelines.
Although Koocher has not made a comment about the issue, his website does include comments pertaining to the Hoffman Report.
“We do not now and never have supported the use of cruel, degrading or inhumane treatment of prisoners or detainees,” his statement read. “We absolutely reject the notion that any ethical justification for torture exists, and confirm that any such behaviors never have been ethically acceptable.”