Intimidation comes in many forms.
And Jon Solomon, the classics associate professor, and I share one Ä "friendly" meetings with administrators meant to intimidate us into submitting to the company line.
Reading Mr. Solomon's column in Monday's issue detailing his intimidation experience with the administration, reminded me of a similar meeting I had at the beginning of the year. A Wildcat reporter and I were invited to the ivory tower to talk to President Manuel T. Pacheco and his "associate" Terence Burke.
Mr. Solomon had the gall to say, to a national audience, that the UA isn't what it should be Ä it's too focused on research and not enough on teaching. For this he was "invited" to Provost Paul Sypherd's office to watch the "60 Minutes" story and talk about his comments. So much for free speech.
The Wildcat was brazen enough to say, in effect, the same thing in August, when we ran an editorial urging the administration to focus on undergraduate education instead of blindly following research dollars like so many carrots on a string.
We mentioned that someone from ABC News called and inquired about undergraduate education. The ABC News employee mentioned the Mount Graham controversy, and asked a Wildcat reporter about student satisfaction, as she said she had heard that students weren't happy.
We answered her questions as best we could. We didn't lie; we just said things the administration would rather not hear.
In the aftermath of us mentioning the ABC call, all hell broke loose. The administration's publicity department (a.k.a News Services, which produces Lo Que Pasa) called me to complain about the editorial.
Then the administration's vanity paper, Lo Que Pasa, published a column from Vern Lamplot, associate director of News Services. The piece gave the impression that I obviously didn't care about the truth because I didn't return Mr. Lamplot's follow-up phone call. I apologize, but I never got the message. I don't have a secretary to field my calls, sorry.
The real fun began when our administration reporter, who had also spoken with the ABC representative, was invited to meet with President Manuel T. Pacheco in his office.
Dr. Pacheco and his "associate" Terence Burke, greeted us and launched into a good cop-bad cop routine. Mr. Burke immediately asked if I was always so negligent of the facts, if I had any journalism background whatsoever, and if I cared what the truth was. It was insulting, offensive and naive.
If I had said, "Mr. Burke, do you always do what Dr. Pacheco tells you? Do you share a disregard for undergraduates on this campus? Do you like playing the heavy, trying to intimidate students?" he would have thought me ignorant Ä although his questions were of the same caliber.
Dr. Pacheco let Mr. Burke do most of the talking, and periodically asked when I was graduating. I suppose hearing me say "I'll graduate in May, I hope" once wasn't enough Ä I answered the question several times. I got the definite feeling that the pair wasn't interested in my life, or educational progress, only that I was progressing out of the university.
I was incredulous after the meeting. The idea that Dr. Pacheco and his henchmen were trying to intimidate me was almost comical. Yet it made sense. The administration has known past Wildcat editors because they were previous news reporters. I wasn't and the elites didn't know anything about me.
This is exactly why the Wildcat is not connected to the university. If administrators could suffocate reporters and editors every time they wanted to, the UA would never have a newspaper. Sorry, I forgot Lo Que Pasa. No, we'd still never have a newspaper.
Like in Solomon's meeting, I was asked for suggestions. I told them to get a better public relations department.
Unfortunately for them, they haven't. Mr. Lamplot wasted his column in Lo Que Pasa on me again this week, in response to last week's column about "60 Minutes." I'm assuming that he is referring to me, because his column starts "Dear Sarah," and talks about the Wildcat. Maybe he left off my last name and title as a way of trying to belittle me, or maybe he knew that whining about me in print wasn't entirely dignified and didn't want to be specific. Who knows how many Sarahs are out there heading up the school newspaper?
Either way, I appreciate the attention. But the administrators and their propaganda department should be listening to the students, not trying to intimidate me.
Sarah Garrecht is editor in chief of the Wildcat, and a journalism senior.
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