The Sunflower makes its mark: Kansas Legislature says student-fee meetings should be open to the public

Score one for openness in government:

If Gov. Jeff Colyer signs the latest budget bill passed by the Kansas legislature, Wichita State will have to open its student fees deliberations next year.

The Kansas Legislature sent a budget bill to Colyer with an amendment that will require Wichita State, and five other regent universities receiving state funds, to hold open deliberations and provide access to documents related to student fees.

The amendment was due in large part to the situation at Wichita State University, in which reporters were barred from covering the student fee deliberations. Behind closed doors, the student government cut funding for the student newspaper, The Sunflower, by half with no explanation as to why. Subsequent actions restored some of the funding, but the question regarding the required openness of the meetings remained murky.

The goal of good journalism is to “move the needle,” so to speak. Journalism should draw attention to problematic situations, provide insight as to these issues and inspire action to make things right. Although it was a long and personally painful process for the staff of The Sunflower, I would argue here that the juice was worth the squeeze.

Congratulations, folks. You made a difference.


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