Matt Cohen, Editor-in-Chief
Areena Arora, Managing Editor
After more than 35 years, faculty meetings will no longer be open to reporters.
On April 18, Ohio Wesleyan faculty members voted to disallow The Transcript, the school’s independent student newspaper, from attending future faculty meetings.
Bob Gitter, professor of economics and a member of the faculty’s Executive Committee, presented the motion. Faculty asked the Executive Committee to reconsider the issue of banning The Transcript’s attendance, according to the faculty meeting agenda.
Gitter read the agenda and said, “Faculty meetings will not be open to reporters and a new mechanism in the form of a faculty meeting summary will be made available to the public within 24 hours after the end of the faculty meeting.”
Gitter then called for executive session, which was supported.
The vote was 47-21 in favor of the motion.
“It has a chilling effect on what people are willing to say if they feel the comments are going to be published in the newspaper,” he said.
The length of the meetings was also one of Gitter’s concerns.
“The fact is, too often, going into executive session, the meetings are lasting much too long,” Gitter said. “Here it is 7:30 p.m. I had to stay and count balance, but the meeting didn’t get over until just a few minutes ago.”
“There’s a number of reasons, but not everybody that supports a motion supports it for the same reasons.”
Paul Kostyu, chair of the journalism department and associate professor of journalism at OWU, opposed the motion.
“I had a lot more questions and I wasn’t allowed to ask them,” Kostyu said. “I would not call it a debate. It was a series of questions and statements from various faculty.”
Thomas Wolber, chair of the Executive Committee and associate professor of modern foreign language, said he agreed with Kostyu.
“Kostyu was the first one to stand up and ask a number of questions. which were not satisfactorily answered,” Wolber said.
He also said there was inadequate discussion during the meeting.
“I was not given a chance to speak and to voice my opinion,” Wolber said. “The discussion was truncated and that I found unfortunate.”
Kostyu also said he believes OWU is being ironic.
“Nationally, there is more of effort in higher education to be more transparent. It’s ironic we’re going the other direction.”
“We are restricting freedom,” Kostyu said. “It’s ironic and hypocritical that our speaker for commencement is Greg Moore, who opposed this policy. But yet, we’re inviting him, who may have actually covered these meetings as a student.”
Moore is the former editor of The Denver Post and a 1976 graduate of OWU. He will speak at commencement this year on May 8.
Previously, The Transcript was denied access to a faculty meeting on Nov. 16, 2015.