Only students lose if reporters barred

Editoral Board

Editoral Board

At issue:The Regents barring media from open forums Sept. 14-15.

Our view:It’s illegal and unfair to cut journalists — and students — out of the process.

It could’ve gone so well.

Four men want to be South Dakota State University’s president. They’re talented, experienced and highly qualified.

During two days, Sept. 14 and 15, they’ll meet with groups of all those that make up this campus: Alumni, faculty, staff, the community and students. Everyone is invited.

But not reporters. “There is no role for the media,” said Robert T. “Tad” Perry, executive director of the South Dakota Board of Regents, which is overseeing the search for a new president.

He’s wrong. We’re not asking for a one-on-one chance to meet the candidates-although that would be nice.

We just want to give the candidates a chance to speak to the thousands of students who can’t meet them face-to-face.

It couldn’t be simpler. The forums are all during class times. Many students won’t be able to attend. They might have class, or maybe work.

They shouldn’t have to walk through the door to get to know the candidates.

They shouldn’t be left out of the process because they can’t make it to a forum.

That’s where we come in. Covering the forums is all we ever asked to do in this process.

Perry told us the students who can’t attend simply aren’t part of the process. How dare he determine which students are more worthy to weigh in on the next president of this university?

Students must be the heart of the higher education system in this state. Perry’s statements and his actions force us to questions his dedication.

Now we’re going to court. Not to keep students from talking with the candidates. Not to give the Regents a bloody nose. And certainly not because we want to be center stage.

Journalism, at its truest, is not about those things.

So why are we pushing the issue?

Because we simply want to do our job. To the best of our ability. With rights under the law we take very seriously.

We’re going to court, hoping a judge’s order will make Perry and the Regents see reason.

We’re heartsick to think of the impression the four candidates will get of this state and of the Regents.

We’re saddened to see what we seems to be an otherwise good-faith effort to include students crash against a strangely secretive process.

We’re frustrated that our small band of student-journalists is the first to fight an illegal process used many times throughout many years.

But it’s come to this.

Here we stand.

We can do no other.