Last week I invited representatives of campus media outlets to a meeting to discuss the policy that requires student journalists who wish to speak with members of Administrative Assembly to route their requests through the media relations office. I wanted to get feedback on how it had been working directly from those most impacted by the policy.
I was gratified to hear that there had been no issues with the actual implementation of the policy. In its day-to-day operation the policy succeeded in its intended purpose of facilitating interviews with appropriate story sources. However, those I met with helped clarify for me the depth of anxiety that has been expressed about the policy by some students and faculty. They perceive it as being a potential barrier to effective interactions with a large number of administrators and to the learning process for student journalists. The policy was also perceived to be a means for the administration to be less transparent with the campus community. Though this was neither the intention nor the impact of the policy, the widespread presence of such perceptions provided me with a better understanding of why it has taken on a negative symbolic weight.
I discussed with campus media representatives several options for moving forward that could mitigate those negative perceptions, including the possibility of limiting the number of administrators to whom the policy would apply. Ultimately, however, I have come to the conclusion that simply fine-tuning the policy will not resolve the perception that its true purpose was to make it more difficult to observe and report on Ithaca College news.
Therefore, effective immediately, I am rescinding the policy. I did not come to this decision lightly, just as I did not establish the policy on a whim. I still believe it would benefit both administrators and student journalists to have the media relations office facilitate making appropriate connections for interviews – the short-lived experience of the policy was that it did just that. On balance, however, it is better for IC if we move ahead without the policy.
As has previously been the case, members of Administrative Assembly are free to determine for themselves how they wish to respond to media inquiries and interview requests, just as is true of all members of the campus community.
I appreciated the opportunity to have a candid conversation with the student media representatives and their advisers. We hope as a college leadership to meet the expectations created by our highest aspirations as a campus community, and this decision is the right decision from that perspective.