Call Waiting

Cartoon by Julie Gundersen.
Cartoon by Julie Gundersen.
Cartoon by Julie Gundersen.

At a recent Sustainability Committee meeting regarding the college’s new bike policy, a reporter from The New Paltz Oracle was asked to leave by an administrator sitting on the committee who took issue with his presence. Later, when the committee voted to allow our reporter to remain, the aforementioned administrator refused to speak for the remainder of the meeting.

Our reporters were initially barred from attending presentations by food service vendors last spring by Campus Auxiliary Service (CAS), only gaining access after we fought for it.

While we’d like to be able to say that incidents like this are rare, we at The New Paltz Oracle have found that they’ve become all too common.

It’s become increasingly difficult for us to contact our sources, particularly administrators, directly for comment on pressing issues and even more difficult to have face-time with them. Recent cancellations of meetings with both student media and student government bodies are troubling to us, particularly given the emotionally and politically-charged nature of campus issues. These interactions, or lack-thereof, with our campus administrators make us question their commitment to maintaining open and transparent lines of communications with student media and, ultimately, the student body.

As journalists, we believe our duty is to truthfully and efficiently bring the pulse of information through the bureaucratic red tape and into the hands of students. We’re here to report the news.

Now, of course, we don’t take this responsibility lightly. Speaking with our sources is a privilege, one that allows us to truly get a grasp of the inner-workings of our stories without spin; it’s our lifeline and the closest we can get to truth.

That commitment to truth and to creating an informed campus community is something we’re hopeful our administration shares. We want nothing more than to fulfill our role as the “fourth estate,” to provide the service we value so much. It’s the very discipline the bulk of our staff is studying at this institution, after all.

We recognize then, as a media body, that there are proper channels needed to ensure interviews are handled professionally. We appreciate that they look to assist us and remain respectful to the busy schedules of campus employees. However, when the proper channels interfere with our ability to accomplish our aforementioned goals by deadline, when the stories cannot be told and the sharing of information is halted, we start to wonder if the channels are in need of repair.

We as a student body need transparency from our administration. Students’ access to independently and impartially gathered information should be a priority. Accountability should be paramount. Forthright and honest communication between leaders and those they are responsible for should be sacred. We cannot condone attitudes that fail to value these things.

Even though our institution does not, on paper, operate in the same manner as a democratic body, we believe the college should act as a microcosm of our society at large. To act in the spirit of democracy in every facet is imperative to the intellectual growth of our campus. As an institution that prides itself on a progressive, intellectually nurturing environment, we should be an example for others and strive to act in accordance with the ideals we hold.