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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

December 15, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Letter to the Editor: Faculty and staff call for college to rescind media policy

As we see it, this policy has implications beyond the merely procedural. It bureaucratizes and centralizes a process that should remain free and open by allowing students to approach whomever they want. Identifying their sources and interviewing many different people is how students learn to be good journalists. Besides, an administrator is always free to decline the request for an interview or to suggest another person.

The policy also seems to sequester the highest leadership from student media, raising questions about accessibility, accountability and transparency. We do not know how much of the “actual” work of this leadership is negatively affected by interview requests, but it shouldn’t be all that arduous for their assistants to field such requests or, if necessary, to direct them to the office of media relations in the office of marketing communications.

The policy suggests that only selected administrators should be interviewed about any given policy. This effectively disallows hearing “multiple” perspectives on the same issue since not all administrators may necessarily agree with the policy in question. By relying on only the “correct individuals,” student media and their audience in the campus and broader communities may get a false sense of consensus and homogeneity on campus, obscuring a diversity of viewpoints and foreclosing or silencing dissent and critique.

This policy also appears to indicate mistrust of the college’s own administrators, something these individuals might well feel as a personal affront on their ability, integrity and judgment.

There is the additional concern of timeliness. A journalist on deadline cannot wait for a marketing/media relations officer to return a phone call or send her or him up the chain command until an available, approved spokesperson is found.

While we could understand that the president’s inner circle, the vice presidents or President’s Council, might have internal reasons to speak with a common voice, this is entirely inappropriate with the wider circles of administrators, staff and faculty.

At a college where the journalism program and all communications programs are heralded, and where the administration and board rolled out IC 20/20 — with its No. 1 theme of “integrative learning,” never better modeled than in student-run media — this hints of censorship and sends a troubling signal to current and potential students.

To foster a positive and fruitful learning environment, as well as transparency, accountability, and collegiality, and in keeping with the stated mission of Ithaca College, we urge the president to rescind this policy.

Editor’s Note: When this letter was received, The Ithacan was going to press. Any faculty or staff member interested in signing the letter should email ithacan@ithaca.edu. The following list will be continuously updated to reflect the most recent signatures.

Jonathan Ablard
Associate Professor of History

Susan Allen-Gil
Professor of Environmental Studies and Science

Stewart Auyash
Associate Professor and Chair, Health Promotion and Physical Education

Kimberly Baker
Assistant Professor of Sociology

Asma Barlas
Professor of Politics and Director, Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity

Mary Bentley
Associate Professor of Health Promotion and Physical Education

Susannah Berryman
Associate Professor of Theatre Arts

Elizabeth Bleicher
Associate Professor of English

Dan Breen
Associate Professor of English

Karen Breuer
Associate Professor of History

Jeff Claus
Associate Professor of Education

Jeff Cohen
Associate Professor of Journalism and Director, Park Center for Independent Media

Vivian Bruce Conger
Associate Professor and Chair, History

Kelly Dietz
Assistant Professor of Politics

Maria DiFrancesco
Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures

Zillah Eisenstein
Distinguished Scholar, Politics

Ali Erkan
Associate Professor of Computer Science

Jason Freitag
Associate Professor of History

Chip Gagnon
Associate Professor and Chair, Politics

Jennifer Germann
Assistant Professor of Art History

Claire Gleitman
Professor and Chair, English

Carla Golden
Professor of Psychology

Marlena Grzaslewicz
Assistant Professor of Cinema, Photography and Media Arts and Endowed Pendleton Chair

Beth Harris
Associate Professor of Politics

Christine Haase
Administrative Assistant, Philosophy and Religion

Cynthia Henderson
Associate Professor of Theatre Arts

Sandra Herndon
Professor Emerita of Communication

Naeem Inayatullah
Professor of Politics

Paula Ioanide
Assistant Professor, Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity

Jennifer Jolly
Associate Professor of Art History

Howard Kalman
Associate Professor of Strategic Communication

Luke Keller
Associate Professor and Chair of Physics

Tom Kerr
Associate Professor of Writing

Matt Klemm
Assistant Professor of History

Annette Levine
Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures

Janice Levy
Professor of Media Arts, Sciences and Studies

Gustavo Licon
Assistant Professor, Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity

Michael A. Malpass
Charles A. Dana Professor in the Social Sciences, and Professor of Anthropology

Peter Clyde Martin
Assistant Professor, Education

Linda McBride
Professor Emerita of Psychology

Paul McBride
Professor Emeritus of History

Nancy Menning
Assistant Professor of World Religions

Catherine Michael
Communications and Legal Studies Librarian

Susan Monagan
Manager, Audience Development and Special Projects, and Lecturer, Theater Arts

Barbara Morgenstern
Associate Professor of Television-Radio

Elisabeth Nonas
Associate Professor of Cinema, Photography and Media Arts

Mary Beth O’Connor
Assistant Professor of Writing

Judith Pena-Shaff
Associate Professor and Chair, Psychology

Patricia Rodriguez
Assistant Professor of Politics

Susan Rosenthal
Associate Professor and Chair, Management

Gordon Rowland
Professor of Strategic Communication

Cyndy Scheibe
Associate Professor of Psychology and Director, Project Look Sharp

Tom Shevory
Professor of Politics

Arturo Sinclair
Assistant Professor of Television-Radio

Steven Skopik
Professor and Chair, Media Arts, Sciences and Studies

Michael Smith
Associate Professor of History

Chris Sperry
Director of  Curriculum and Staff Development, Project Look Sharp

Maura Stephens
Associate Director of the Park Center for Independent Media

James Swafford
Associate Professor of English

Alicia Swords
Associate Professor of Sociology

Michael Trotti
Associate Professor of History

Jason Tucker
Lecturer, Writing

David Turkon
Associate Professor of Anthropology

Paula Turkon
Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Sciences

Michael Twomey
Charles A. Dana Professor of Humanities and Arts

Gladys M. Varona-Lacey
Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures, Interim Director of the Center for the Study of Culture, Race and Ethnicity

Rachel Wagner
Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion

Zenon Wasyliw
Professor of History

Fred Wilcox
Associate Professor of Writing

Patricia Zimmermann
Professor of Screen Studies

The Ithacan can be reached at ithacan@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @IthacanOnline