Students at Auburn and Indiana University are struggling with school officialsover access to meetings that student journalists think the public has aright to attend.
A wall of silence surrounds an Indiana commission chosen to developguidelines for acceptable behavior for all students and faculty in theschool’s athletic department.
The committee members, appointed by university President Myles Brandafter sanctions were imposed against Indiana basketball coach Bob Knightfor misconduct, held their first closed meeting in May with no prior noticeto the public and no comments afterward regarding what took place inside.
It appears that the commission’s code of conduct, once decided, willbe all the information that is released thanks to what Indiana DailyStudent editor John Silver called a loophole in Indiana’s open-meetingslaws.
“The reason they can close [the meetings] to the public is that thecommission members were appointed by the president — not an elected/appointedgoverning body — and not the board of trustees,” Silver said. “If theywere appointed directly by the trustees they would have a difficult timeclosing them.”
Meetings by schools’ governing bodies, such as the board of trustees,are required to be open to the public in Alabama, but at Auburn University,the board holds a closed executive session prior to each regular monthlymeeting.
Incoming Auburn Plainsman editor Rachel Davis said that duringregular board meetings, issues that should require discussion and debateare often passed over quickly by the trustees.
“A decision to merge the departments of journalism and communicationwas discussed for less than 10 minutes, and no one was allowed to speakfrom the floor,” Davis said. “I believe the decision was already made.This lack of discussion time during meetings only leaves us to suspectthat the board is breaking the law by meeting in secretive sessions.”
Davis said the Plainsman plans to pursue the issue further thisfall.