After a lengthy battle over transparency, GPC President Dr. Anthony Tricoli is moving to fix the college’s open meeting and open records policy.
Tricoli expressed his disagreement with The Collegian’s charge of the administration’s violation of the law at the 2011 Student Leadership Conference. He said the administration did not include Student Life and human resource department.
“Now we all know we can’t believe everything you read in the newspaper,” said Tricoli, drawing applause from SGA members. “But that’s not to say there aren’t parts of this piece that are true, and they are concerning.”
As he voiced his support for the student newspaper, Tricoli urged the student government to keep their meetings open and to communicate effectively with the student body.
For seven months, The Collegian has reported on the SGA and administration’s violations (see timeline of events here). After being charged with an excessive fee from HR, the student newspaper filed a formal complaint to the attorney general’s office and began to seek legal counsel. Tricoli has since waived the fees and assured The Collegian of a speedy release of the requested documents.
“We’ll sit down as the administration and look at the different pieces that may not be in place today,” said Executive Vice President for Financial and Administrative Affairs Ron Carruth. “We’ll incorporate some policy and procedure that will make sure everything is covered appropriately.”
June said the incoming student government leadership will undergo a summer training program which will include procedures for conducting meetings, posting notifications of agendas and meetings and making documents available for public access. He also said a working draft of the SGA constitution will include a provision to comply with federal and state law.
”We’re in the process now of cleaning a whole bunch of stuff, so to speak,” assured June. “Everything will be spelled out in black and white.”
GPC had faced similar problems in 2004, when former faculty members Stephanie Coffin and Steve Beauchamp filed a lawsuit against the administration for the violation of GORA. The college lost the case and settled in 2005.
“Anytime we made Open Records Requests, we were automatically charged a significant amount,” said Beauchamp. “It was clearly intended to discourage us from getting more information.”
“From what I understand, it appears this is a troubling rehash of the open records problems GPC had that led to the suit,” said attorney Gerry Weber who represented Beauchamp and Coffin in the case.
Carruth, however, did not believe the administration was repeating history. One of the situations at GPC is that it is a multi-campus college and these records are maintained at different locations, he said. “If anything, our open records processing has improved over the years.”
As of press time, the remaining March 18 and March 21 requests are were released on April 26.
By Sabastian Wee, Editor-in-Chief