OPINION | Good journalism clearly calls for more transparency at Butler

The Butler Collegian has undergone quite the facelift this year by reporting on things that impact the entire student body, by looking at things not just at face value and by source-building and digging around for newsworthy stories.

The Collegian has started a conversation on campus that I don’t always like to hear, but it’s also increased awareness of the press on Butler University’s campus.

In journalism courses, we’re taught how to use reporting skills to research on issues that have impact.

To do that properly, a journalist must find the right people to talk to and the right questions to ask.

To do this even better, it calls for more transparency in university operations.

Decisions recently made by Faculty Senate and dean search committees reflect how sometimes, public formus—otherwise on-the-record events—can be closed off to assure that exchanges are marked as “off-the-record.”

In an email sent out to students attending forums with College of Communication dean candidates Glenda Balas and Gary Edgerton, students were told not to act as members of the press and that everything was to be  deemed off-the-record.

Time was given to The Collegian complete additional interviews with the candidates privately.

Faculty Senate voted Oct. 19 to give themselves the option of holding closed-door meetings.

This allows them to go into an executive session during which members of the press could be asked to leave.

Even though The Collegian is able to conduct outside interviews away from those forums, people are known to act differently in a public setting than when they are addressing the media.

Meanwhile, a group of students has been impressive in their commitment to transparency.

This year more than ever, Student Government Association executive board members have opened up to the public and to The Collegian.

The transparency demonstrated by executive board members is beneficial to the student body because it allows for a better exchange of ideas and makes people feel more at ease to ask the important questions that need to be answered.

The cost to attend Butler  tops $40,000. The average student will spend four years at the university.

That $160,000 and four-year investment seems to be reason enough to open up and answer questions about the way the university operates.

If students are essentially paying the employees, we should get to know who those people are. If changes are being made to our curriculum, we should know what those changes are.

When governing bodies make decisions that impact the entire student body, they should make them publicly.

It’s good to see that a student organization—the head student organization—is leading the way and setting a standard for how to address concerns and the press.

By opening up meetings, setting up time to talk to members of the press and replying to most emails in a reasonable time frame, they have successfully connected faces to the organization and have spoken for votes passed, budgets approved and events held.

This quality exemplifies why Butler’s student leadership is important in making sure the student body feels as though it is properly represented.

Faculty members should learn a thing or two from the transparency set forth by this year’s SGA executive board members and learn that opening up is beneficial to all parties involved and is more respected by their peers or constituents.

It’s  an easy thing to declare something and refuse to answer questions. It takes bravery to declare something and be willing to talk about why it happened.


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