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Purdue's Camp DASH Investigation Reveals Failure To Manage Study, Camper Conduct

Purdue University

The failed summer camp/research study Camp DASH was flawed on several levels, according to a report by Purdue University’s office of ethics.

After violence and sexual misconduct was reported, the study was shut down and campers sent home.

An investigation, whose results were released Tuesday, determines the design of Camp DASH was “inadequate” and “suffered from a culture of non-compliance” with study protocols and University policies.

The report cites multiple failures including lack of supervision, delays in reporting incidents and lax controls. Incidents included assault, sexual harassment, exploitation, bullying and threats.

Provost Jay Akridge says the protocols for the study were flawed.

“Looking forward, I think it’s more about setting it up properly, staffing it properly, doing some things structurally that would allow us to be successful that were not done in this case,” Akridge says.

The study was meant to measure how different diets affect blood pressure in adolescent subjects. There are currently no plans to conduct the study again, but Akridge doesn’t rule out the possibility.

Earlier this year, Purdue officials reported no other serious incidents at the more than 100 camps held over the summer.

Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships Suresh Garimella calls Camp DASH a learning experience. He says he hopes it won’t hold the school back from similar types of complex research.

“This is what Purdue does – we make great strides in research and I think we wouldn’t want something like this to stop us,” Garimella says. “In doing that, we just want to do it well so that safety remains a top priority.”

Garimella says the data collected from Camp DASH will not be used because of noncompliance with the study procedures.

The report – some of which is redacted with black boxes, in part to protect participants’ identities -- suggests Purdue tighten the reins on procedures including staff training, the participant code of conduct and study protocols.

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