Univ. of Maryland student group denies reporters access to meeting

MARYLAND — A University of Maryland student grouprefused to allow student reporters into its meeting, saying that it was notsubject to Maryland Open Meetings Law because it does not receive studentactivity fees.The Diamondback sent two reporters to cover theFeb. 27 meeting of the Senior Council, charged with organizing commencementactivities. The council, which receives state funds through the office ofstudent affairs, turned down repeated requests from the reporters. Itsleadership said that its members could not discuss a controversial proposalabout which student group would choose the commencement speaker while reporterswere in the room.”As I understand, because Senior Council is not fundedby student activities fees, we are not required to have open meetings,” graduateassistant Amanda Niskode was quoted as saying in The Diamondback. Sherefused to comment for this article.”It was a shock,” Diamondbackeditor-in-chief Jay Parsons said, although he added that they did not normallycover the Senior Council meetings. Despite the closed meeting, The Diamondback did report on the outcome of the debate. Parsons hadoriginally called one of the students in the council, who told Parsons that themeeting was closed. Parsons then called Student Affairs Chief of Staff BrookeSupple, who confirmed that the meeting could be closed. Undaunted, the tworeporters went to the meeting, where Niskode turned them away. TheDiamondback has not decided whether to file a lawsuit or work with theuniversity counsel to open the meetings.”One of the things that we’reconsidering is having them send out a university-wide memo,” Parsons said. “Thememo from the general counsel, if we go that route, would definitely be a moreimportant part in instructing everyone on campus exactly what the lawis.”Supple could not be reached for comment.