SGA discusses frustrations with president’s forum, newspaper
Secretary compares The Ranger to the National Enquirer.
Published: Friday, October 12, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 09:10
Correction: The theme for the Oct. 31 Sweet Treats event is a “steampunk” version of “Alice in Wonderland.”
A lack of students and an abundance of vague answers at an Oct. 2 open forum with President Robert Zeigler were two complaints Student Government Association brought up during Monday’s meeting in Loftin Student Center.
“Great event, but there wasn’t that much of a student presence,” Vice President Mike Martinez said.
A lack of advertising for the event contributed to the small number of students, Secretary Justin Wideman said.
The event was advertised through emails sent through ACES, televisions around campus and the college’s Facebook and Twitter profiles.
President Jacob Wong said he spoke with public relations Director Vanessa Torres after the forum and told her fewer students attend classes Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Wideman said, “It was a great show for tenured faculty, staff and administration. Anybody that’s adjunct or lower pretty much did not show up at that event.”
Commissioner Maura Callahan, communications sophomore, said, “Well, there were several (questions) that were asked; they were answered, but I think we were all looking for more of a definite result. We wanted the guided light on where to go next.”
Wideman said, “Some of the answers were roundabout answers that didn’t really give the answer; they were just skirting around what the actual issue was.”
Callahan said that Zeigler “was approachable.”
“He did state the question and did try to answer it the best of his abilities, but I just feel that a lot of us were frustrated in the fact that it wasn’t quite in-depth as we wanted.”
An answer includes a plan and a timeline of when an issue will be resolved, Wong said.
Wideman said members of the audience left during the forum because it seemed as if Zeigler’s answers were rehearsed.
“Not saying that Dr. Zeigler is meaning to do this in any way, shape, form or fashion, it’s just how it comes off,” he said.
Callahan suggested reviewing footage of the forum, creating possible solutions for the issues brought up during the forum and presenting them to Zeigler at an Oct. 18 Pepsi with the President meeting.
Wideman also discussed the issues brought up about The Ranger during the forum.
Fine arts Chair Jeff Hunt said during the forum The Ranger has had an “erosion of ethics” over the past few years.
He recalled an incident with a student that occurred earlier that day in McAllister Fine Arts Center and said faculty and staff were trying to create a barricade against a Ranger reporter and photographer to maintain the student’s privacy.
He also recalled The Ranger’s coverage of paramedics attempting to resuscitate speech Professor John Skinner after a heart attack April 17.
The story and photo were posted online within the hour before Skinner’s family was notified, Wideman said.
The archives of The Ranger Online, however, show that though the incident occurred at about 9:45 a.m. that day, the story was uploaded to The Ranger Online at about 3 p.m.
The Ranger reported that Skinner’s wife, speech communication professor Suzanne Skinner was with him when the heart attack occurred, according to information from public information officer Julie Cooper.
Cooper sent a statement about the incident in an email to employees before The Ranger story was posted.
“At this point, The Ranger is being viewed as a tabloid than it is an actual, legitimate newspaper because of how strongly they are going away from hard reporting and factual reporting,” Wideman said.
“I’ve had students tell me, ‘If I wanted to read the National Enquirer, then I’d go to the store and purchase it.’”
Though Wideman would not identify the students, he said Tuesday students have approached him telling him The Ranger is sensationalist.
“And yes, I know that sensationalism in a newspaper can help push the paper, but at the same time, at what expense is it at?” he asked.
He said The Ranger did not publish complaints about the paper in the print version because the staff did not want to look bad.
In “Advising, adjuncts top forum” from Oct. 8, the story asked readers to visit The Ranger Online for more complete coverage “with topics ranging from complaints about The Ranger to construction on campus” because of the limited space a print newspaper provides.
“I know typically The Ranger is not going to badmouth itself; we know that. That’s why it didn’t put in there … it chose something else that became the biggest topic at the open forum instead of The Ranger. I mean yes, y’all put it online, but in print it was more toward adjunct faculty.”
SGA members spent 20 minutes of a 48-minute meeting critiquing an editorial in the Oct. 8 issue of The Ranger.
The editorial “Use fee wisely” provided suggestions for how the Student Activity Fee Committee could spend the $400,000 budget, which is collected from students at $1 per credit hour.
“An editorial piece of the paper is an opinion, whether it is written by a reporter or an adviser … It’s somebody’s opinion of an interpretation of what they perceive to be fact,” Wong said.