Many years ago, the Kinsey Institute had a great friend. In the early 1950s, when the new institute and its director, Alfred Kinsey, came under attack at the federal and state levels, Herman B Wells, then president of Indiana University, fiercely defended Kinsey's right to conduct objective scientific research, regardless of how unpopular that research was with particular individuals or groups. Wells' position was based on an ethical commitment to academic freedom, a belief that only research and scientific knowledge could address the social problems of our culture, and a faith in knowledge over ignorance.
Nearly 50 years later, the Kinsey Institute still has that friend, and he is still speaking out in defense of the institute against those who misrepresent its activities and discredit its contributions. In a January 26 letter to Indiana state representative Kathy Richardson, Wells, now University Chancellor, responded to an Indiana House resolution demanding information about Alfred Kinsey's research techniques and a Senate bill calling for the withdrawal of funding for the institute based on the alleged practices of its founder. Wells stated:
I am not shocked to still be fighting the battles Dr. Kinsey faced, but I am surprised at the amount of disinformation that exists about the man and his research.Wells went on to point out that these current legislative actions questioning the methods used by a scientist 50 years ago are diverting attention from the Kinsey Institute's current work -- its important research programs, medical clinics, and collections' preservation.
Wells' voice is one of reason, and a growing group of like-minded individuals is gathering to protect the image, vital work, and potential contributions of the Kinsey Institute. Formally launched in November 1997, the Friends of the Kinsey Institute is quickly becoming a vital source of support for the Kinsey Institute today. Since its inception, the organizaiton has grown to a group of nearly 100 members under the guidance of a 26-person steering committee. The Friends will nominate members for the first election of the board by mail ballot this spring. The twelve-member board will assume office and appoint a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer on July 1. The Friends group will hold its first annual meeting -- a brunch followed by a business meeting -- May 17.
Today, the Kinsey Institute needs friends as never before. It needs the support of rational voices across the world who believe that research into sexuality is as important today as it has ever been. It needs the backing of those willing to invest in its future, both financially and through gifts of time. It needs individuals to act as the eyes and ears of the institute in their communities, to let the Kinsey Institute know how their communities perceive sex research in general, and the Kinsey Institute in particular. It needs well-informed individuals to counteract misinformation about the institute and its important role.
If you believe in the urgency of the Kinsey Institute's mission -- to promote interdisciplinary research and scholarship in the areas of human sexuality, gender, and reproduction; if you use the institute's incomparable collections or value their preservation; if you support the application of research to addressing today's pressing sexual and reproductive health problems, we need to hear from you. Please select your level of support on the Friends membership form and return it to become a Friend of the Kinsey Institute.
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