Off the Normal Path-A discourse on student government

I don’t do this very often (ok ever) but bear with me.

For the last few months, the Campus Citizen, IUPUI’s student-run media outlet, has been investigating IUPUI’s student government: Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and the Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG).

What it has found is disturbing and troubling to say the very least. I had the honor to join the Citizen’s ranks for the first time to contribute a piece to the investigation. Below, read the timeline of articles that have been published thus far and then keep reading my two cents.

  1. http://thecampuscitizen.com/the-latest/2016/1/29/the-systemic-problems-in-iupuis-student-government
  2. http://thecampuscitizen.com/the-latest/2016/2/12/f9n7kfr5i9ftuo97zpz2orrcq2p89s (Mine)
  3. http://thecampuscitizen.com/the-latest/2016/2/12/tuakf60udfjotq9y5isn6edfr4r2iv
  4. http://thecampuscitizen.com/the-latest/2016/2/12/student-and-staff-react-to-the-systematic-problems-in-iupuis-student-government
  5. http://thecampuscitizen.com/the-latest/2016/2/19/opinion-deflections-distractions-and-iupuis-student-government (Editorial by our editor in chief)
  6. http://thecampuscitizen.com/the-latest/2016/2/19/dean-of-students-addresses-record-transparency-among-student-organizations (Opinion on an open forum by the dean of students)

It is that last article that leads me into what pushed me to write this.

At said open forum, IUPUI’s Dean of Students accused student media of embellishing stories.

“I think the important thing about student media is you look for a juicy story and if there’s not a juicy story they try to create a little bit more juice. And I think the media is like that—it just bleeds and bleeds.”–Dean of Students Jason T. Spratt, advisor to USG/GPSG.

I do not care what side of this current issue you are on as an IUPUI student, faculty member, staff member, or outsider looking in. That is a highly, highly disturbing statement. If someone is going to make a statement that is tantamount to accusing the Campus Citizen of being unethical, he/she better be willing and able to back it up with facts and details on where the Citizen erred in its reporting: in my own article, in David’s or in any other piece that has or will be published.

The Dean of Students has repeatedly stonewalled Citizen reporters seeking comment on the issues in student government and asking for any explanation on why it has happened. For my own article I was told I could not have an in-person issue due to “time constraints” though I had given no deadline and only suggested a possible day for the interview. It is amusing to me that he would use a campus-wide forum to so openly declare his feelings on the work of the Citizen when he would not say anything like this to our faces (literally) and will not (cannot) explicitly declare that our reporting is falsified or exaggerated.

Instead, Spratt hides behind insinuation and monologues on our reporting and behavior as a media outlet. Spratt repeatedly called the Campus Citizen “student media” in his quotes from the forum, perhaps in an attempt to devalue the work it has done, make it less reputable. The Citizen is run by a talented group of individuals who are NOT paid for their work, unlike several key members of student government. I count myself lucky and honored to have gotten to be a part of the publication and this group of “student media” members before I graduate.

Furthermore, I love this campus. IUPUI is home to me and I will miss it and the people in it terribly when I finally move on (be it in the next few months or later). I work for campus in two different capacities. I have dedicated hundreds upon hundreds of hours to its student organizations as a member and a leader. I have represented this campus to the best of my ability nationally and internationally and done so with pride.

What the student government is doing and what Spratt said about student media is incredibly insulting. While it does not fully diminish what I have accomplished here nor my overall feelings for IUPUI, it does make me pause to know that the Dean of Students does not believe that I have acted ethically. That without knowing me and without offering any facts to back up his claims, he would accuse myself and my colleagues of exaggerating stories for…fun? to gain page views? to alleviate boredom? Or even all of the above as he did not bother to clarify why he held that particular viewpoint.

I am angry and frustrated that we are being accused of wrongdoing due to our dedication to uncovering truth and bring accountability to a government organization. At every turn we have been outright lied to or unintentionally misled, both of which are unacceptable for a government handling thousands and thousands of dollars and purporting to work for the general good of the IUPUI campus in everything it does.

 

I hold no belief that any member of student government is acting maliciously. But there is a clear lack of guidance and accountability within both USG and GPSG and it is creating an atmosphere in which the student presidents and their executive boards have an insane amount of power and responsibility with little to no oversight. That is wrong at any level of government.

Neither myself nor the Citizen know what the ultimate outcome of this investigation will be. But for my part, all I want is accountability to be brought back into a system where there should have already been checks and balances.

Thank you for reading. Support your student governments. Be smart and well-informed students so that you can, if not be involved yourself, promote and encourage good governing practices within your universities and the world at large.

 

{I found this article to be incredibly interesting in light of the above articles and events that have transpired: HERE )

 

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One thought on “Off the Normal Path-A discourse on student government

  1. Swhitt222@aol.com

    When God wants me awake early and I don’t know why, I turn on the computer and the reason is right in front of me…a letter about a friend who has died, a note inviting me to a Bridge game, a reminder about being reconciled, etc. Today’s reason is so that I could take the time to read all six articles and your blog….as always I learn something about a new topic(my version of being retired and now home-schooled by others. Speaking of which, can you imagine the articles that might be written by a teacher’s college on the home-school movement….they might only interview the “unschoolers” and use that as a basis for their bias if they chose. That said…I loved reading the articles and even took notes… Good job love, grammy

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