A quick follow-up post on the UW-Oshkosh student media situation

The Advance-Titan staffers at UW-Oshkosh met with some folks in the administration Thursday to discuss the issue of reaching sources and the role of UMC. From all accounts, a lot of things got done and some more things need to get done.

The group agreed that some sort of plan, policy, procedure or other form of mutual understanding of how the A-T, UMC and the folks at UWO work together needs to be hashed out. I didn’t attend the meeting, but in pulling from some notes, conversations and emails, it looks like the students and the A-T board members were respectfully heard.

Chancellor Andrew Leavitt made it clear that he favors the free expression of ideas and that no one is punished for talking to the press, which was both good to hear and completely unsurprising to me. As I’ve said before, I really do like this guy and I really do think he has students and student media’s best interests in mind. I’m sure it’s not an easy job to balance all the audiences he deals with on a daily basis, but as far as I’ve been concerned, he’s always made me feel like he listens to student needs and he is honest about his positions on everything.

After I posted the email addresses of Leavitt, Peggy Breister and Cory Sparks earlier in the week, asking folks to express themselves, I know a lot of you all did just that. I also know that Leavitt personally responded to all of the emails he got, as multiple people told me they received a note back from him, thanking them for his interest in all this and reaffirming his commitment to student journalism at UWO.

The academics who shared those notes with me told me how impressed they were that he was willing to do this, with at least one of them saying, “My university president wouldn’t do that!”

Even more, I shot a quick email to the UMC to offer Breister or Leavitt an opportunity to give me their take on the meeting and I got this back:

Dear Vince,
Peggy Breister and Alex Hummel shared your request for comment.
I understand the staff of the Advance-Titan may be producing an account of our good meeting and valuable conversation yesterday. I would like to respect the space and opportunity the student journalists have to develop and publish their story. I won’t be commenting at this time.
Thank you,
I would like to respect that space as well. Rome wasn’t built in a day and nothing was going to get fully fixed in a meeting involving a dozen people at a table. It’s my understanding the students have schedule a follow-up meeting with the administration to codify some of the issues brought to bear this week and develop a plan (or whatever we’re calling it) that can bring peace with honor.
My hope going forward, and I don’t think I’m being a Pollyanna here, is that these folks build a really good set of guidelines and standards that will establish collaborative opportunities and clear boundaries in regard to who does what and in what way. I really want that to be something that when some other institution invariably hits the same kind of snag we’ve seen here, we can share the UWO policy and say, “Here. This is a thing UWO built that really works well. Feel free to adapt it to your needs.”
Thanks so much for all you all do for student journalists. I’ll post again on this once there’s something new to say.

Leave a Reply