Wednesday, the current home of University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication, Agate Hall, was adorned with a giant banner stating, “WE STAND WITH THE HAT.”
Apparently, the decision was made at a SOJC faculty and staff meeting Wednesday afternoon.
In hanging this banner, the SOJC is speaking not just for SOJC staff and faculty but for its students as well. That building represents the SOJC as an entity and the banner is an official stance in support of President Lariviere.
Yet, as far as I am aware, students weren’t consulted. As far as I am aware (and I checked, but I admit, I got upwards of 25 emails Wednesday about Lariviere via grad list emails), I did not get an email inviting me to the meeting. If the SOJC was going to take a stance, they should have been transparent and made sure there was clear and thorough communication with students. Furthermore, students should have had a voice in the matter.
There seems to be an argument that we should trust the people that attended that meeting and SOJC Dean Gleason to make that decision for us but I find it invalid.
Trusting Dean Gleason to speak for us is the same as trusting the CEO of a big company to speak for its employees (note: I very much respect Dean Gleason and the SOJC staff, they are all very thoughtful people who wouldn’t take something like this lightly). He’s not necesarily in tune with my interests, he hopefully doesn’t think exactly the same way as I do, there is a possibility that he could be wrong and I didn’t elect him to represent me. This isn’t a normal, write-it-off kind of event, this is the President of the university and a banner on the front of our building. We should be encouraged to do as journalists do and explore all sides of the story. We should be presented with information from both sides. We should have a discussion or a talk with several guest speakers. We should sit down and talk with the President. We should be independent thinkers, and having our leaders stand behind an issue discourages that and encourages us to jump behind the cause rather than thoughtfully defend our positions.
Let’s stop and think, what has Lariviere done that’s bettered the university? And equally, how has he hindered progress? Honestly, at this point, I can’t tell you, I have a lot of research to do. But it is quiet curious that this just popped up, it makes me think that we might be missing some information.
The jury’s out for me on Larieviere’s reinstatement, but I reject the idea of let those in power speak for the masses. Every voice is important. The SOJC mobilized too quickly to get a comprehensive feel for the reactions of its students.
Here’s the question I’m left wondering–where did the money for the banner come from? Even if it was a small amount, it still matters. If the banner was paid for with student fees then if there are students who oppose President Lariviere’s reinstatement, they should be allowed a banner as well.
The Commentator is working on securing a photo of Agate Hall.
Update December 4, 2011: UO SOJC Dean Gleason said in an email that the banner was paid for with faculty money. He also said that he made it clear to the faculty that he was not directing the project.