Fla. community college president discredits student newspaper’s reporting, gags faculty

FLORIDA — The president of a Florida community college is attempting to bar the student newspaper from reporting on faculty contract negotiations and is accusing the faculty union of breaking a state law by speaking to the student press about the negotiations.

Ed Meadows, president of Pensacola State College, claims the student newspaper, The Corsair, would not have known about the non-student issue if faculty had not approached them with the idea and that they should not report on this issue because it isn’t about students, according to an Inside Higher Ed story. Editor-in-Chief Spenser Garber dismissed both of Meadows’ claims.

Faculty members were told that communicating with the student press about the contracts violates a state law that prohibits union members from “instigating or advocating” support from students, according to a letter from college attorney Michael Mattimore sent to the faculty union on Oct. 31.

The faculty union responded, claiming that the interpretation of the law was invalid and that the administration has been lying about the newspaper’s reporting.

The Corsair has published one story related to the contract negotiations so far. The student newspaper reported on Oct. 31 that 34 of 35 Pensacola State Faculty Association members who voted at an Oct. 9 meeting voted no confidence in Meadows.

“The constant bargaining has made the faculty feel that the administration does not have the faculty’s best interests at heart,” The Corsair reported. “This has caused a feeling of distrust in President Meadows and other members of the administration.”

Contract negations for faculty were sent back to the bargaining stage earlier this year after the proposed contract from administration was voted down by faculty, The Corsair reported in the same article.