By Maddie Matos, A&E Editor
On Monday night, the faculty of Ohio Wesleyan University put into writing that reporters are no longer allowed into their meetings. Transcript reporters are no longer allowed into the meetings and the editor-in- chief will be emailed the summary of the meetings each month.
The staff voted 56-18 to keep reporters absent from meetings. This was conducted by a paper ballot.
The same night, the faculty also approved the committee for free speech on campus.
The idea of having a committee for free speech while banning journalism, the constant provider for free speech and freedom of the press, is blasphemy. The school is being hypocritical for endorsing free speech but taking away the right for someone to report on these meetings.
In an era of “fake news” and distrust of the media, it can seem almost impossible for anyone in the business to try and do their job. Most reporters simply are covering their stories and reporting facts, not attack someone or an institution.
The OWU journalism department is a small one. We often struggle for stories at the Transcript, are understaffed and are overworked. We each are attempting to learn what it means to be a journalist in the modern age, and the faculty closing off access to these meetings is inhibiting us more than ever.
Faculty meetings let us know, as both students and journalists, what different departments are doing. They tell us which professors are receiving different awards, what events are happening on campus. Meetings let us get the information out to the reader as soon as possible. Without these meetings, how can we do our very jobs?
The whole purpose of journalism is to inform the public of what is happening in the world. And at a campus as small as OWU’s, faculty meetings are an integral part of any journalist and their work.
In short, every single person on campus will now suffer from this decision. Whether it is a lack of information to the reader, a lack of communication between departments or simply a distrust between each other, we all suffer from this decision.
2 thoughts on “OWU faculty expels reporters on a secluded ballot”
To the Editor of the Transcript (and feel free to print this, if you wish):
I was disappointed to hear of my colleagues’ decision to ban the Transcript. In my 34 years of teaching at OWU (Humanities-Classics Department), the Transcript was almost never excluded (when the Faculty was not in ‘executive session’ which are sometimes advisable). Let me praise the 18 faculty members (you know who you are) for upholding our liberal arts and open dialogue tradition.
Of course, their 56 colleagues and fellow administrators may have more to hide now, there may be more bad news from which staff and students need adult protection. There may be fewer defenders of free speech, like Philosophy’s Andy Anderson and Humanities-Classics and English’s Bill Judd. Or, those Trump-leaning citizens of this country maybe enjoys using “classified” stamps more, so bureaucrats, administrators and (could it be?) some academics can keep the sunshine of public information and knowledge under one rock or down a legalistic worm-hole. Or maybe the faculty voted this way because–it could. The power is theirs at our private institution, I know and I’ve seen its effects.
An email summary is a censor’s poor joke or a fool’s compensation.
I have seen OWU as a bastion of freedom, open discussion, and fair play–how does that Mission statement of 1842 run?
“the University is forever to be conducted on the most liberal principles. According the most liberal principles–you can look it up. I guess “forever” is now past.
Perhaps there was more to this decision than the Transcript printed or was allowed to learn. I am disappointed in the Transcript not judging that this was not front-page news, not even news but the A&E Editor’s “opinion”. In addition to opinion, one looks for a headline and the essential facts. These facts cut to the heart of what this or any university is, yes, even a private one. The facts would include how many years OWU Faculty Meetings have been open to student representatives and what the arguments pro and con were, since I don’t think the faculty swore an oath of secrecy about any discussion at their now poorly attended meetings.
Much more important than your 20 April front page featuring a banker’s lecture, as important as a chaplain’s award or sexual assault discussion, is information about university policies, student life, the libraries and computers, the safety of students and faculty, changes in academic policy free flow of campus information, and admission figures.
Very interesting. I’ll post your story on our industry’s site, stateofnewspapers.com, and do a little digging myself. If you would like to write a brief story about the events leading up to this decision, we would welcome your story.
Publisher, State of Newspapers
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