“I didn’t like what she wrote last week,” said vice president of student affairs Dr. Stacey Duhon after commanding that I leave a cabinet meeting called by Student Government Association president Steven Jackson.
Dr. Duhon told me that no one wanted to talk to me and that the Gramblinite wasn’t invited to the meeting.
She dismissed me prior to president Horace Judson’s arrival. He was down the hall.
Steven Jackson and I attempted to negotiate permission for me to remain in the meeting room– to no avail. After Gramblinite access was denied, Steven Jackson left the meeting. He stated that if all of his people couldn’t be made privy to the information, he wouldn’t meet.
Outside of Long Jones Hall, I told Dr. Duhon and Dr. Judson that I wasn’t there to stir up anything. I sought to alleviate some of the confusion between authoritative figures and the unofficial street committee on campus.
I told them that I wanted to bring about clarification of the issues.
At last week’s meeting with Dr. Duhon, Steven Jackson informed her that henceforth an embedded reporter would accompany student representatives to ensure that the student body was informed about the decision making process.
No objections were raised then, so being ordered to leave this week was unsettling.
As a journalist, I don’t strive for perpetually palatable writing devoid of truth. If some readers don’t appreciate that, so be it.
President Judson explained that some meetings are closed and others aren’t. He reserved closed meeting status to talk about personnel issues.
While it is understandable that university representatives will have some private meetings, it is incomprehensible to be banned by someone who didn’t call the meeting.
According to the Louisiana Open Meetings law, the deliberations of public officials should be conducted publicly to maintain a democratic society. Aren’t universities a facet of society, one that strives for the same liberties as other American institutions?
Somewhere along our journey as Gramblinites, some people developed an aversion to campus media. Attempts to shut down individuals or campus entities looks questionable. Questionable behaviors breed contempt and confusion.
I doubt that Steven Jackson would invite the media to a discussion of personnel issues, such as professional competence, possible litigation, an investigation of suspected misconduct, or other illegal subject matter.
I doubt that he would risk his status as a much needed campus leader to orchestrate a prohibited discussion of public information.
“Use every available resource and every opportunity to apply yourself and your talents to the task at hand,” Judson wrote in last week’s Gramblinite.
I don’t want to doubt that.
Imani Jackson is a junior mass communication major from Jacksonville, Fla.