On Monday, Kent State journalism faculty members sent a resolution to university administrators to “express our objection to the way the university has handled the release of public records and the closed process relating to the recently completed presidential search.” The resolution was signed by 28 of the 33 faculty members. One tells me that some profs hoping for tenure didn’t want their names on the resolution. So far there’s been no administration response to it, I’m told.
On Tuesday, some faculty members bought a full-page ad (above) in the Daily Kent Stater. A few thought the language was too strong, I’m told, and declined to endorse it. The ad cost $1,028, according to the paper’s business department.
Here’s what the ad says:
A letter from members of the faculty of the Kent State University
School of Journalism & Mass Communication
In a democracy, any decision that favors secrecy over openness must be closely scrutinized. Secrecy can damage the credibility of any public institution.
We’re embarrassed by our administration’s refusal to disclose public records related to the recent presidential search. And we’re troubled over credible news reports that some of these records may have been shredded to avoid public inspection.
Kent State’s decision to withhold these records may violate the Ohio Public Records Act. And though only a court of law can decide the legal issues, the administration’s decision to ignore the principles of transparency raises serious questions of ethics.
At the School of Journalism & Mass Communication, we instill in our students a reverence for open government and the right of a free press and public to engage in the oversight of government agencies. It is our duty to do this.
Kent State’s decision to withhold information about the presidential search teaches the wrong lesson to students. It also sends the wrong message to our friends, our alumni and Ohio taxpayers.