WEB-EXCLUSIVE: Letter to the Editor

3

November 30, 2011
From the desk of:

Marcus Clem
913-897-1270
marcusclem@gmail.com
18050 Canterbury Drive
Stilwell, Kansas 66085

Letter to the Editor of The Campus Ledger

Dear editor,

As your readers will be aware by the coverage The Ledger has suitably focused upon the concerned events, Johnson County Community College has decided to reach a settlement with me in my lawsuit against them that I have pursued regarding information that was sought concerning the “resignation” of Jason Rozelle. This effort was made in conjunction with the assistance of the law firm Bryan Cave LLP and the Student Press Law Center. I would like to relay my boundless gratitude toward my partners in these organizations, specifically Christopher Grenz, Mike Hiestand, and Frank LoMonte. Without their advice and support, none of this would have been possible.

I must admit, the decision on the part of the college to settle out of court with me is a personally gratifying event. Nearly a year of effort has produced what can only be defined as total success. Not only was the college forced to completely reverse their position on the cost obtaining the emails that we have sought, but they have also decided to change their policy in order to simplify the process of future open records cases. These reforms were pursued as part of our suit, and I would like to thank the college’s administration for the wisdom they have shown in agreeing to these changes.

Despite what I can only describe as elation over this matter, however, frustration and anger over how this process has unfolded remains. None of it was necessary. If the college had handled the matter properly, we would have received the requested emails as part of the open records process. I cannot be more clear on that matter; it took some months of effort and patience that the average citizen cannot afford, and ultimately the threat of punitive legal action, to get the college to comply with state law.

Even once a suit had been filed, a month and a half of going back and forth in negotiations played out without need or justification. During that process, the college’s leadership, rather than addressing the matter at hand, chose to attack my personal credibility and that of other involved individuals. Specifically, it would be prudent for Dr. Terry Calaway, college president, to apologize for what can only be described as childish misconduct and dishonesty, in suggesting that I only pursued this matter for personal reasons, and that the suit was in keeping with a record of problems that I’ve supposedly caused over the past several years. This man speaks for the college, as he too often forgets.

The main concern at hand, however, has been resolved, and I will go on to greater things with my head held high. I wish the best to The Ledger and all of my good friends who work there, with the hope that the changes my efforts have produced will ensure that the newspaper continues to operate as the informer and advocate for JCCC’s students and constituents.

Good luck.

Marcus Clem
Former JCCC Student Journalist

3 COMMENTS

  1. We are fortunate to have Dr. Calaway leading one of the top community colleges in the Nation. By definition, the mere fact that you pursued this matter is proof in and of itself that your reasons were personal. Thank you, Dr. Calaway, for your steadfast leadership and community service.

  2. Okay, here is something I have to add to this: if anyone takes the time to read through the 94 page AQIP review, different things will stand out to different people. I will address 2 issues that have stood out to me so far (and I’m not done studying this document):

    1. Stakeholders. Who are they? Well, an attempt to describe them are in this document, but what is NOT addressed is if various stakeholders of JCCC have differing value. What I mean is that I am a JoCo taxpayer (a stakeholder) and I am a student (stakeholder) and donors are stakeholders (sorry, too poor to donate enough to have a building named after me).

    Who carries more weight, do you think? I am ONE taxpayer out of many. I am ONE student out of many. I also fall under the adjunct category (related issue). Why is no one asking this question?

    I think what happened to Brown & Gold is absolutely horrible! Regardless of reasons, the WAY it happened did not honor any B&G members of our community (stakeholders, whether JoCo taxpayers or not). Many do take courses for credit and non-credit, they are students whether or not they pay full price (out-of-state tuition).

    Get what I’m saying? Brown & Gold students (those 55 and older) are stakeholders on more than one count!

    2. Also in the AQIP report it is mentioned that the college President is to conduct regular town hall meetings. This has not happened publicly except twice in 2009 – 2010, I believe. I understand there should be regular “State of the College” addresses, too. However, spring of 2011 this did not happen due to illness, but it wasn’t rescheduled until practically 6 months later; I think the “state of the college” might have changed, especially since this means we were in a different fiscal year after July 1st!

    I want to observe, without being overly critical, that this represents the drop of a presidential responsibility, and yet a 3% salary raise was granted. I’m sorry, many people might see this as getting a raise for “less performance”.

    I charge the Campus Ledger staff to look into these matters — study the AQIP document and see what other discrepancies you find. AQIP is the accreditation body that falls under the Higher Learning Commission. Check out their webpage, too!

  3. Good for you Marcus. JCCC is way too tight-lipped and you just keep wondering “what else” are they keeping secret, ala Carlson. Among others, Judy Korb should be fired.

    And you have correctly characterized Calaway.

    Childish – prone to attack any critic as having some sort of secret, personal agenda. Even attacking a respected judge in that flap over nurses and Facebook.

    Dishonest – well, he certainly leans toward “truthiness.” When defending the firing of the elected members of the Brown and Gold Board of Directors to his own elected Board of Trustees, a lynchpin of his argument was a botched trip to Branson. Somehow he failed to mention that trip happened three weeks AFTER the board was fired. And maybe a bit two-faced. About a month before that firing of 18 board members he told the President in a private meeting that everything was hunky-dory.

    Or, at the January Trustee meeting he went on and on about the dire financial condition of The College. But the truth is the college is awash in cash and has been since before 2007. Tuition went up anyway and more adjunct will be hired to increase their margins. There is, however, cash available to buy a new little building on the spur of the moment.

    The real shame is the elected Board of Trustee members know many of these details but just don’t seem to care. Why, one has to wonder, do they spend $80,000 on an election to win these unpaid seats and then just rubber stamp everything?

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