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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    EDITORIAL: We’re done with GPSC President Brooks’ games

    We have a bone to pick with GPSC President Zachary Brooks.

    Earlier this week, Brooks released an official statement via the Graduate and Professional Student Council’s website declaring his opposition to the Arizona Student Media fee, which would support operations at KAMP Student Radio, UATV and the Arizona Daily Wildcat.

    In his statement, Brooks writes that Arizona Student Media’s fee proposal says “nothing tangible” of its benefits to graduate students. Furthermore, Brooks says he is against the fee because Arizona Student Media Board bylaws dictate that the board’s graduate student member cannot be an elected GPSC official.

    No one, including members of Arizona Student Media, can make you vote a certain way. There are certainly a fair number of reasons to not vote for the Student Media fee, and as an independent voter, you are owed the freedom to draw your own conclusions.

    But there are a few reasons Brooks’ anti-endorsement means nothing.

    Student-run media serves all students

    “In fact, the word “graduate” does not appear once in the Prospectus,” Brooks writes.

    Actually, the proposal says: “Arizona Student Media is a campus auxiliary department reporting to Student Affairs with oversight for student media organizations. Its mission is to recruit and coach student staffs and to provide the resources that allow students to produce high quality media that inform and entertain the UA community on multiple platforms and provide forums for the exchange of ideas and opinion.”

    Notice that “undergraduate” also does not appear even once. Does that mean the fee does not serve undergraduates either?

    A more logical reading would interpret “students” as encompassing both groups. The fee proposal does not distinguish between the two groups in any way. Although it’s true that participating in student-run media is traditionally an undergraduate extracurricular activity, graduate students are not excluded. Suggesting they are is misleading, irresponsible and manipulative.

    Last semester, the Daily Wildcat’s editors included two graduate students.

    KAMP Student Radio currently employs five or six graduate students, including one serving as a music director, said KAMP general manager Isaac Gealer.

    UATV does not currently employ any graduate students, said UATV general manager Jackie Kent, but any student — undergraduate, graduate, professional — from any major can apply to work at UATV, just like at any other student-run media outlet.

    Not to mention, the chair of the Arizona Student Media Board is a graduate student.

    Furthermore, graduate students are encouraged to interact with all three outlets, and many do.

    The Arizona Student Media Board restricts elected officials of GPSC from serving on the board simply in order to maintain an honest and free press.

    After all, it would make no sense for the president of the U.S. to serve as editor-in-chief of The New York Times. The bylaws protect Student Media from political influence.

    Besides, the Associated Students of the University of Arizona and GPSC hold seats on the board. Neither seat can be filled by an elected official, but representatives from both student government bodies are supposed to be there.

    GPSC left its seat unfilled this year.

    Furthering a personal grudge

    Last fall, in a series of emails to the Daily Wildcat, Brooks accused reporters and editors of bias in their coverage of the Arizona Students’ Association, a student statewide lobbying group that has made headlines for its contributions to a political campaign using student fee money and its lawsuit against the Arizona Board of Regents.

    In November 2012, Brooks wrote, “Your editorial decisions are harmful to 140,000 students of the state of Arizona.” He also accused the Wildcat of engaging in “cut-and-paste journalism.”

    Since then, Brooks has repeatedly refused to cooperate as a source. He refuses to speak to all but one reporter at the Daily Wildcat now, ignores requests for in-person meetings, refuses to consent to telephone interviews and prefaced an email response to questions with, “Please use this quote in its entirety. I will not agree to let it be used otherwise.”

    That’s just not the way journalism works.

    Furthermore, Brooks has sent text messages to a news reporter in an attempt to influence the direction of a story. No other leader at the UA, student or otherwise, has gone to such lengths to make sure a story is told the way they want it to be.

    We’re not in the habit of folding to figures who try to wield an authority they do not have over our coverage. But attempts to reach out to other GPSC members have only resulted in pointless referrals back to Brooks, systematically destroying the organization’s relationship with the Daily Wildcat.

    Protecting free, independent student press

    Brooks’ behavior has been unprofessional, vindictive and wholly unbecoming of a student leader.

    His refusal to support the Arizona Student Media fee appears to be more about his personal feelings toward the Daily Wildcat than his concern for graduate students, and it disregards the well-being of KAMP Student Radio and UATV entirely.

    KAMP and UATV would essentially be unfunded without the fee. But perhaps even more importantly, Brooks’ anti-endorsement demonstrates a frightening ignorance: Any student government body that asserts itself into the editorial decisions of student journalists threatens the First Amendment rights guaranteed to a free student press.

    Brooks has turned GPSC’s relationship with the Daily Wildcat into a fight on the playground. But what Brooks has yet to realize is that no one is obligated to play the game by his rules. He can take his ball and go home. The game will go on without him.

    — Editorials are determined by the Arizona Daily Wildcat’s editorial board and written by one of its members. They are Kristina Bui, Dan Desrochers, Casey Lewandrowski, K.C. Libman and Sarah Precup. They can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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