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One important obligation of a good citizen in a free society entails questioning the motives and decisions of governing authorities. By failing to do so, civil liberties and freedoms can be lost without any opportunity to prevent such situations from taking place.

In Washington, D.C., bills can be fast-tracked, legislation passed or decisions made that directly affect the public, but this is done with minimal attention to avoid any form of repercussion from the public to delay them.

The press plays a critical role in providing much-needed information to a population that may not have the time or resources to do the appropriate research. Without the press, the public may lose out on critical information needed to make proper decisions about how they vote or where they spend their money.

The media play an important role in informing citizens of certain issues that may have an impact on their lives. At USF, the Oracle provides this service to the students, faculty and staff who are part of a community.

When a story or editorial runs in the Oracle that appears critical of operations taking place at USF, the paper is fulfilling its role not only as a member of the press, but as a member of the community at large.

But the Oracle is not the only entity capable of presenting information to the public.

With more than 40,000 students in addition to the faculty and staff, it is imperative that USF is willing to be transparent regarding its policies and procedures.

Because USF is a state institution, it is bound to Section 119 of the Florida Statutes. The statute, commonly known as the “Public Records Law,” or the “Sunshine Law,” requires that government or public agencies allow their records to be investigated by any party that requests to do so.

Records that fall under this category include the salaries of executives and the budget of any operations under the control of the University. The records should be available to anyone, regardless of position, who is willing to take the time to submit the appropriate request.

It is our job to pass along this information. It is done with the hope that the decision makers and negotiators who shape the University understand that they can, and ultimately will, be held accountable for their actions.

When it comes to your education or employment at USF, nothing should be done behind closed doors.