Jan 272008
Authors: Sean Reed

Transparency keeps taking hits at CSU.

Tuesday, as most of you know, President Penley hosted a private meeting with the publisher and editor of the Coloradoan about a possible “strategic partnership” between the Gannett-owned paper and the Collegian.

Since the Collegian caught him red-handed in his attempts to keep these talks private — even going so far as to bring the subject up during Executive Session during the final Board of Governors meeting last semester, preventing ASCSU President Katie Gleeson from taking any official action or even discussing the matter — despite the enormous effect they could have on the student body, our president has been doing some spin control, trying to paint the talks as a means to improve student media at CSU.

In an e-mail to the student body, Penley cited a desire to “enhance educational opportunities” and “professional opportunities for student journalists,” as well as to “enhance journalism faculty participation,” and “improve services to the larger student body” — the implication being that the Collegian, in its current state, is falling short in these departments.

But a closer look at these statements illustrates, well, the blatant ignorance of said statements.

According to an independent study conducted by members of the University of Illinois and Oregon State University concluded in June of 2006, the Collegian doing a pretty good job.

The study concluded that our student paper was referred to as “the flagship student medium on the CSU campus . the leading student newspaper in Colorado,” and that it is “regarded around the nation as among the top daily newspapers.”

What’s more, the report found, “journalistically, the program [student media] is serving the needs of the campus community in that there are adequate programs to inform, educate, guide, persuade and entertain the campus and the greater community,” a statement emblematic of the report’s findings in almost every aspect of the Student Media operation.

Why then, is President Penley so very interested in disrupting the structure of this organization, which, by all indications, is serving its purpose to educate students within the program while serving the community at large?

The answer is retribution.

Last September’s controversial Our View brought considerable attention to the university — much of it negative.

After the university figured out that it didn’t have the authority to fire Editor-in-Chief J. David McSwane, they got upset.

When Jim Landers resigned from the Board of Student Communications after failing to pass bylaws changes that would allow the university, a government entity, to punish editors for content — which is unconstitutional — they got more upset.

And Gannett, sensing opportunity, moved in.

Bob Moore made the phone call proposing the initial meeting with Penley in November. It’s obvious the editorial and the administration’s willingness to entertain Gannett’s pitch are connected.

As much as Penley would like to paint it as a move by a benevolent administrator to better his student body, the truth is, the Collegian printed the f-word and got away with it, and now Penley wants to get rid of the paper that’s been a thorn in his side for much of his tenure.

But he and his supporters are forgetting that the Collegian is bigger than some controversial four-word editorial.

Our student paper has been around for 116 years, almost as long as CSU athletics, which Penley would never turn his back on. The people that make up its bowels are hard-working, honest students who put out a quality product everyday while still balancing full school schedules, whose only crime is a de facto association with a statement they may or may not have agreed with.

If you don’t like David McSwane, that’s fine. If you don’t like the Editorial Board, that’s fine, too. We’ll all be gone in a year or two.

However, a petty dispute with a small group of students is no reason to hand a CSU tradition to a corporate giant.

Editorials Editor Sean Reed is a senior political science major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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