Genshaft’s vow of silence continues

At the end of last week, a fax was sent to The Oracle by Michael Reich, USF director of media relations, regarding interviews requested by a reporter with USF President Judy Genshaft. As the general tone of the message is relevant to all students, it is reprinted here in its entirety:

“My apologies for the delay, but we wanted to give your interview request our full consideration. We are declining it. You asked us to provide the reason if we decline it, which I will do even though I’m sure you will take issue with it. Simply put, we don’t believe you will treat her fairly, so we don’t see it as a wise use of her time right now.

“On the calendar….The president’s office made an administrative decision to stop posting the calendar to the Web. We will not offer any more information than that.”

Reading the quoted fax, the message is clear: The president of USF will not talk to The Oracle because it is not “a wise use of her time.” Further, the schedule of the president’s appointments is not published online anymore, which is a direct violation of the Florida Constitution, Section 24b, because it restricts The Oracle’s ability to cover meetings the president might attend. Such meetings are public record, and restricting access to when and where said meetings are to be held is, therefore, illegal.

Because The Oracle is a free publication for to all who want to read it — be it one of the paper copies distributed across campus or its online counterpart — it is the biggest source of information readily available free of charge to every USF student. Yet, talking to The Oracle, whether a one-sentence statement or a half-hour interview, is not “a wise use of (Genshaft’s) time” because The Oracle supposedly “would not treat her fairly.” Genshaft is suggesting the paper would fabricate statements, something that has never happened in the past and would not happen in the future as it would be highly unethical.

Apparently, her vow of silence extends even farther than that, as the faculty also repeatedly requested a dialogue with Genshaft but have been adamantly ignored. These are the faculty teaching classes at this university, and they are more than unhappy. If even some leave, this place will be unable to function as an institution of higher education. The faculty and its needs deserve to be respected for the work that attracts students to USF.

Yet, Genshaft refuses to comment on this case, not to mention her lack of comment on the nationally publicized case of Sami Al-Arian and his indictment as a supposed member of a terrorist organization. Wouldn’t her thoughts on the matter interest the students she is paid to represent?

Genshaft represents the university that will one day be on my resume and is paid with the tuition collected from students. I think I have the right to demand that she do her job, and abide by the rules so that I and fellow reporters can do ours.

Asking questions that might be uncomfortable to answer and reporting the answers truthfully is the job of a reporter just as much as it is Genshaft’s job to be readily accessible.

If she really is intimidated, as she has repeatedly claimed, by the questions asked by a bunch of 20-somethings, maybe she should have chosen a different job. As Genshaft recently signed a new contract, she will remain our president for some time and should start acting accordingly.

Sebastian Meyer is a juniormajoring in environmental