Florida student newspaper avoids newsroom lockout

The student newspaper at Florida Atlantic University has averted a three-week newsroom lockout, which the student government threatened to impose beginning Dec. 20.

It was the latest chapter in an ongoing saga between the University Press and the school’s student government leaders whose relationship has been tenuous since the University Press began reporting in November about a retroactive pay raise the student government leaders awarded themselves.

University Press adviser Michael Koretzky said that on Monday, Dec. 13 the student body president, Alvira Khan, ordered the newspaper staff to turn over the keys to the newsroom by Dec. 20. Khan told Koretzky that since employment contracts for the paper’s staffers had not been signed by an editor in chief, the staffers could not have keys to the office. The employment contracts were not signed because the student government suspended the editor in chief selection process in November, Koretzky said.

A meeting on Dec. 15, between Koretzky, Khan, University Press co-executive editor Lily Ladira and Dean of Student Affairs Leslie Bates went well, Koretzky said, and resolved the problem of the reporters being barred from the newsroom for not having signed contracts.

Student government now will issue University Press staffers employment contracts that will expire on Feb. 9, Khan said. By that time, an editor in chief will have been selected to sign extended contracts.

Ladira, the paper’s co-executive editor, said she could not help but think the threat of a lockout was a move by student government to punish the paper for reporting the student government pay raises. Earlier this month FAU’s student government tried to fine and suspend Koretzky for altering the editor in chief selection process, which student government claimed amounted to ethical violations. After campus outcry and publicity in local media, Koretzky averted the fine and suspension but was reprimanded by the student government.

Khan denied that the action was retaliatory and said the student government was simply enforcing the rules.

“There’s no singling out of one person or one agency or one organization,” Khan said. “If you don’t have a contract and you’re not an employee, then you can’t have a key to the office”