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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Editorial – 2/13/02

Last week The Mass Media was singled out from the other observers in a Student Senate Budget and Finance Committee meeting and was forced to leave the room.

The press was removed from the meeting on the grounds that the senate was going into an executive, or closed, session, where it is legal to ask the press to leave. However, the committee and the senators involved did not follow Robert’s Rules of Order in the process of going into executive session (see article on front page: Behind Closed Doors), nor was the subject of discussion appropriate for an executive session.

Now is not the time for secrecy in the Student Senate as the budget crisis increases in intensity on federal, state and local levels. There is a desperate need for transparency in all government institutions; the irony of Senator Barnes’ comment that they just wanted people to “voice their opinions in open” is that the gesture of exclusion has only created an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust.

The senate has shown an overall pattern of obstruction towards the press since reports were published on issues and incidents that are embarrassing and make a laughingstock of some of the senate. The senate has retaliated like Nixon’s Vice President Spiro Agnew by echoing his sentiment that the East Coast press was a bunch of “nattering nabobs of negativity.”

There are specific reasons in Massachusetts law for going into executive session: security reasons, collective bargaining, litigation disputes, etc. As the senate knows, however, it is not appropriate to go into executive session when the committee is meeting with student center representatives to discuss budget matters–denying those students who depend on The Mass Media their senate update. But the senate continues to deliberately hinder The Mass Media’s coverage of senate business.

The exclusive barring of The Mass Media from the Budget and Finance Committee meeting is indicative of the growing animosity between UMB’s independent press and the Student Senate. Unfortunately, the senate will not save face by illegally excluding us from reporting on the handling of the students’ money; it is time the senate faces this reality.