The Oakland Post

Sunshine Week highlights the importance of government transparency

Shelby Tankersley

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Happy Sunshine Week folks. Each year, America devotes seven days to stressing the importance of transparency.

Sunshine Week was established in 2005 and has one goal: To educate people on the importance of government being honest with the media. After all, the media is the way most people learn about what’s going on in the world.

“There are many countries where the people and the press are not free to speak,” Garry Gilbert, journalism program director, said. “We all pay taxes, you pay tuition, shouldn’t we have a right to know what happens with that money?”

Two weeks ago, a Turkish newspaper was put under government control because the government didn’t like what the reporters had to say, according to The Guardian. Journalists here don’t have to worry about getting in trouble for critiquing politicians. It’s part of the job.

“As consumers of the news, we have to insist that the news can give us a fair assessment of what’s going on,” Gilbert said.

In other words, freedom of the press matters just as much for the reader as it does for the reporter. And it’s up to journalists to be transparent with the reader.

“I feel like we should be fair, even if we don’t agree with something,” Katie Sloan, a junior studying journalism, said. “And readers can be more informed if they open their minds to other views.”

OU has a little government of its own that consists of administrators and the board of trustees. While citizens pay tax dollars, students pay tuition. Because of that, the university should be honest with its students.

Here’s a few examples of when OU was transparent or not so transparent with the Oakland Post and students.


The COO position

The hiring of Scott Kunselman as the COO created quite a stir at OU in the fall of 2015. Many students and faculty felt that there should have been a national search instead of the quiet hiring of a former board of trustees member.

And after the tuition raise, students were not happy that the new COO would be making six figures a year.


Beckie Francis firing

The previous president of OU Gary Russi’s wife, Beckie Francis, was the coach of the women’s basketball team. A controversial firing of Francis in 2012 caused Russi to step down from his position shortly after.

While all of this was going on, an athletics employee, who remained anonymous when speaking with the Oakland Post, said he or she was paid to keep quiet about the university. This employee said he was well-aware of controversy surrounding Francis. 


Eric Norman reaching out to students

Last year when OU was in the midst of conducting a national search for a new Vice President of Student Affairs, the last three candidates all spoke to students and faculty about what they would accomplish should they be chosen for the job.

After his presentation, Eric Norman met with a few student organizations, including the Post, so they could voice their concerns and ask him questions. Norman was the only candidate who did this and the students who were in attendance greatly appreciated his effort to reach out to them.

Ultimately, he was not chosen for the job. Long-time Golden Grizzly Glenn McIntosh was picked for the position.


Oakland opens up about professor stalking a student

In 2011, a professor named Srinarayan Sharma was charged with stalking a student. He ended up being sentenced to 30 days in jail.

While the trial was going on, Glenn McIntosh, who was Dean of Students at the time, along with others who were involved in the trial, spoke to the Post about the incident and what students should do if something similar were to happen to them.

Because of this, the Post was able to provide extensive coverage on the matter.

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