University of Iowa president David Skorton is in Washington today (Wednesday). Skorton’s scheduled to testify before a U.S. Senate committee that’s investigating “eco-terrorism.” Last fall, people claiming to be affiliated with ALF, the Animal Liberation Front, broke into a building at the U-of-I and vandalized computers, experiments and animal cages. He says they are looking into activities of ALF, among others. Skorton says he’ll tell them the experience of the University of Iowa dealing with that group. It wasn’t clear at the time who’d broken into Seashore Hall on November 14, but a few days later local newsrooms received a videotape showing masked people pouring acid onto documents, destroying computers, and removing more than 400 animals from their cages in the Spence Research Labs. It’s much more than an annoyance, he says — the direct financial cost will likely be close to 450-thousand dollars. In addition, the University’s president says there are more direct human costs to the invasion.Skorton says researchers and their families have been the subject of harassment. He adds “Perhaps the most important casualty of such an event is the loss of progress in research that’s meant to increase our knowledge of life and to improve both animal and human health.” He says it’s meant a cost to faculty, staff and students from the vandalism. Investigators still hope to find who broke into Spence Laboratories in Seashore Hall, apparently using a key-card. The building houses sociology and psychology departments, and held journalism classes as well till they moved this spring into a new building.
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