Editorial: Faculty no longer trusted with upholding Skyline’s image

On March 12, 2014, Skyline College introduced a new public policy regarding media relations. This includes all major media outlets as well as The Skyline View.

The policy restricts all faculty and administrative staff from speaking candidly with reporters for any reason. This, as explained in the memo sent out to Skyline staff, is to protect the “image” and “brand” of our school.

This stops the flow of information at the very place we need to access it, our teachers and our mentors. Without being able to ask questions we are losing the edge that makes us journalists. In this new system we would have to e-mail our questions to the Office of Marketing, Communications and Public Relations.

We feel that is only detrimental to the public face of our college. It expresses a lack of trust in our ability as journalists to seek truth and to print stories worthwhile to our campus community, as well as, a lack of trust in our faculty’s ability to represent Skyline.

Rather than asking questions directly, we are now forced to go through various channels to seek this truth. This weakens the voice we are able to express, as there are many veiwpoints and opinions on this campus that will now be stifled.

The process of writing questions and waiting for responses via email doesn’t allow us to gain experience as reporters. We are on the student newspaper in order to learn by practice. If we are not given the exposure to success or even failure we aren’t doing ourselves any favors.

The policy states “Please do not agree to conduct an interview with a member of the media. If you are asked to be interviewed, please gather information on what the nature of the interview is, get the questions the reporter plans to ask in writing and consult Cherie Colin.”

The first line of this excerpt is the most compelling aspect of this entire policy. To evade an interview with the media is to withhold information from the Skyline student body. Information that a public college such as ours has no right to conceal.

When faculty members are coached into a specific ideology, they lose their right to express themselves. This creates an environment of hypocrosy because professors who urge students to think critically are not leading by example.

The policy differs from local university media relations in that Skyline wants to control the faculty’s expression; whereas, schools like SFSU and UC Berkeley encourage staff to speak openly.

According to the UC Berkeley website they advise faculty by stating,
“Keep in mind what the public needs to know, and how the topic impacts people’s lives. Anticipate tough questions the reporter might ask.”

We concur with how UC Berkeley’s Media Relations give faculty the tools to co-operate with the media, but in a way that respects the press’ integrity. The policy singles out this publication, The Skyline View, as being off limits to the faculty and staff on campus. We are saddened to be on the outs of communication within our own learning environment.

The policy highlights the Skyline mission statement “To empower and transform a global community of learners.”

We find that this new policy contradicts this statement because we are no longer able to empower our student body with the information they deserve. As students, there should be a constructive backlash against this policy. We must demand that our faculty be heard on their own terms. It is our right as students to get honest answers from our faculty and this policy hinders that right.