What I Would Do To Speak To CMC’s Dean
This article appeared in the Port Side‘s December 2012 print issue.
Coming from a village in northern Wisconsin where overall happiness and levels of domestic violence are heavily correlated to the Green Bay Packers’ success in the football season, CMC seemed as exotic back then as a Bear’s fan in the local tavern on a Sunday when the Pack was playing. To my eighteen year old self, CMC was an escape from Sunday afternoons filled with beer, bratwursts and an overwhelming amount of green and gold.
After almost three years here, I am very glad that I prioritized my desire to learn and left my comfort zone rather than go to a lesser school closer to home. In short, I choose CMC not only to receive an education but to learn how become intellectual in other aspects of my life as well.
As a student journalist, however, some- thing is rotten in the land of sunshine and intellectual discourse. Ever since the SAT scandal last spring, there have been some changes in CMC’s administration. Some of these changes are good, some bad, some transparent, others not so much. One of the most disastrous changes made in my opinion, however, has been the policy that bars journalists, both professional and stu- dent, from speaking with administrators.
Anytime I or one of my writers requests an interview from a CMC administrator, the reply is generally a refusal and we are redi- rected to the Office of Public Affairs and Communications. Rather than talking with an administrator who is knowledgeable in the issue being reported on and can provide valuable insights and details, access to the administration is delegated to professional PR representatives who are not nearly as privy to the issues and are more than willing to withhold controversial information. The ability not only of student journalists but students themselves to have meaningful dialogue with the administration has been stifled by this new policy and the voice of administrators in on-campus dialogue has effectively been eliminated.
Assuming that the administration is wary of negative media and sensationalist reporting, I too would want to restrict journalists to interacting with trained professionals. But I feel that there is a difference between student journalists who are invested in the community and professional journalists who are just trying to write a story. Even if the school is trying to bolster its damage control in the event of negative news, wouldn’t you want to provide students and student journalists with access to adminis- trators so that there is a sense of transparency and commitment to giving students accurate information rather than hearsay?
If the administration is afraid of the wrong information getting into the wrong hands, I feel that there is good alternative than just completely barring journalists from administrations-quote review. While a hard core journalist may look down upon send- ing quotes to interviewees once their story is written in the name of complete candidacy, I feel that within our small community sending interviewees their quotes is a courtesy that I would gladly afford them. If the policy is changed so that administrators will only agree to an interview on the condition of quote review, the administration could still make sure that the accurate information is being publicized yet still foster dialogue with the student body, albeit in a more restricted manner.
CMC is one of the best institutions for higher learning in the world and claims to support scholarship that contributes to intellectual vitality. How can you be committed to intellectual vitality if you don’t give public forums access to decisions makers for not only information but advice as well? If the administration is going to stifle our ability to have intelligent conversations and limit dialogue with our administrators, my isolated village in Wisconsin may not be such a bad alternative after all.