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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Editorial: Issues of transparency at Hart

    UA+President+Ann+Weaver+Hart+reacts+angrily+to+a+question+posed+by+The+Daily+Wildcat+during+an+on-camera+interview+in+her+office+in+Old+Main+on+Friday%2C+August+26%2C+2016.+The+question+attempted+to+clarify+the+timeline+offered+by+Hart+in+her+decision+to+not+seek+renewal+of+her+contract+as+UA+President+in+2018.
    Alex McIntyre
    UA President Ann Weaver Hart reacts angrily to a question posed by The Daily Wildcat during an on-camera interview in her office in Old Main on Friday, August 26, 2016. The question attempted to clarify the timeline offered by Hart in her decision to not seek renewal of her contract as UA President in 2018.

    Transparency for public officials is not an expectation. It is a requirement.

    Throughout her tenure at this university, President Ann Weaver Hart has made it apparent to us that she is running a closed-door presidency and has instructed her public relations team to act accordingly.

    The Daily Wildcat has been content with the access granted to the publication. Conditional interviews and email interviews have become commonplace and accepted as the norm. We have consequently failed in our responsibility of holding the president accountable.

    No longer will the Wildcat cover the president of the UA in such a manner. Hart’s time as the university’s president will be coming to an end in the next two years. She announced in June that she will not renew her contract when it expires in 2018, and the Arizona Board of Regents has already began steps to replace her.

    A new president will be walking the steps of Old Main soon. Students, faculty and the greater university community that the office of the president represents should not only expect transparency, but demand it from their figurehead.

    Hart and her administration have been swimming in a sea of controversy since the turn of the calendar year: the acceptance of a controversial position at a private, for-profit university, questionable spending practices by the administrator of UA’s medical colleges, the mass exodus of the UA College of Medicine—Phoenix senior staff and, ultimately, Hart’s own announcement that her time here is coming to an end.

    RELATED: Hart: ‘Sometimes it’s time to move on

    The doors to the president’s office have remained closed throughout these events. Hart’s communication with the public has been channeled through her public relations team and written statements emailed to the UA community.

    These controversial topics have remained sensitive for the president. The Wildcat recently agreed to a conditional interview with a list of off-topic subjects in a sit-down interview with the president. Hart became frustrated when a controversy was mentioned in the phrasing of a question, and she asked for the interview to be over.

    RELATED: Editorial: Why you gotta be so Hartless?

    Her public relations team has told the Wildcat we are lucky to have such access to the president. Therein lies the issue. Meeting and speaking with the university’s figurehead shouldn’t have to be done under the pretenses of conditional interviews and off-limit subjects.

    The Wildcat agreed to a conditional interview because it was our only option to elaborate on her decision to leave the university. For an appointed president of a public university, making any reasonable topic off limits is unacceptable. Hart must answer for these decisions because they are made on behalf of the public she serves.

    “The president is not speaking about [insert controversy here] at this time” will no longer be an acceptable response. As student journalists, our job is to keep students informed. We cannot do our job if the president doesn’t allow us to ask questions. 


    Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat Opinions Board and are written by its members. They are Opinions Editor Scott Felix, Editor-in-chief Sam Gross, Managing Editor Dominic Baciocco and Deputy Managing Editor Brenna Bailey. They can be reached at opinion@dailywildcat.com or on Twitter.


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