Staff Editorial: Transparency – A brief history: the college’s lack of communication

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Illustration by Sara Scherba

Imagine if you owned a company built with your own money. You would want to make sure the employees did the job they were hired to do.

Now imagine that your employees update you on their work only if you pay more than $47,000 to type up the report. That is the long-standing legacy of JCCC, the college built upon taxes and tuition paid by students.

As a public institution funded by taxpayers, it is the legal obligation of the school to act in an open and transparent manner consistent with our democratic system of government. Without this transparency, we run the risk of allowing school officials, our employees, to do what they will with zero accountability.

An official letter was made available to The Ledger last spring. In it, Dennis Day, vice president of Student Success and Engagement, stated that Brown & Gold Club members were no longer receiving free credit class enrollment as of fall 2012. Brown & Gold Club is available to Johnson County residents ages 55 and up. In an interview about the story, Day said the letter was never meant to be sent out and no changes had been made. We never learned how the letter got released.

Another issue that could have benefitted from more transparency was the smoking ban enacted last year by Student Senate and the Board of Trustees. In a decided move, smoking on the campus was restricted. The board did decide to allow for designated smoking areas near the ITC building only because Burlington Northern Santa Fe asked for them for their employees who attended the school.

The ban was enacted out of health concerns. Note that you can still purchase fried and sugary foods in the school’s cafeterias and many vending machines. Student Senate hosted a town hall meeting in February to discuss the matter. Although attendance for the event was high, the impotence of it was evident when school officials stated that no changes to the policy would be made.

A former Ledger employee, along with the Student Press Law Center, sued the college last year when the school determined that it would cost more than $47,000 to print up requested e-mail records. Such an exorbitant amount of money brings into question the college’s reasoning for the fee. Why would the school charge so much unless it had something to hide? When transparency is shut down, actions come into question.

The Ledger staff is all too familiar with school officials who do not check their voicemails or e-mail or are somehow too busy for a 10-15 minute interview. However, failure to receive an answer only leads to more and more questions.

This school is funded by you. The Board of Trustees, the college president and all college staff are your employees. Why wouldn’t you want to know what they are doing with your money?

Starting today, The Campus Ledger will make available on its website the information request form required by school officials for all inquiries. Our staff encourages you to use it to become more informed. You can ask for a large range of information, from lease agreements with Chick-Fil-A to weekly expense reports.

Discover how your money is being spent. You might be surprised.

 

Editor’s note: A link to the college’s open request form has been added to this entry as well as at the bottom of the page. 

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