Provost allegedly closed an open meeting

Open letter to Provost Sypherd:

At the January 17, 1995 Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure (CAFT) open hearing of Professor Mike Rieber, you interfered with the lawful act of an Arizona Daily Wildcat photographer when he commenced to take a picture of the ongoing proceedings.

At the time, UA Attorney Jacqueline Schneider was your counsel as you were being examined by Professor Rieber. Dr. Marc Tischler was presiding as chair of a three-member CAFT panel.

The following exchange took place at 7 p.m. and was witnessed by several individuals. This exchange was recorded on tape as Wildcat photographer Jonas Leijonhufvud prepared to carry out his assignment:

Sypherd: I see a camera here...

Tischler: What is the purpose of this?

Leijonhufvud: Photograph for a Wildcat article.

Tischler: You have proof you are from the Wildcat?

Rieber: This is an open hearing...

Sypherd: I don't know that open hearing means you allow photograph in here. I will register my complaint ... You can take notes.

Thereupon Leijonhufvud left the hearing room without getting the picture.

The Arizona Open Meeting law states: "... a public meeting ... may be recorded by any person ... by means of a tape recorder, camera or other means of sonic reproduction, provided that there is no active interference with the conduct of the meeting." (Arizona Revised Statutes 38-431.01 E)

The law protecting the rights of an individual to make a record at an open meeting is broad enough to include anyone and not only members of the news media. The right to make a photographic and sonic record at an open meeting also applies to citizen and non-citizen alike regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, social, religious or political persuasion.

From interviews of witnesses who attended the Jan. 17 hearing, student photographer Leijonhufvud conducted himself with dignity and restraint throughout this trying ordeal. If anyone actively interfered with the conduct of the meeting, it was you, the provost, and Dr. Tischler, the panel chair. Both of you knew the Open Meeting law and should have done your utmost to insure compliance with this law. On the contrary, you did the opposite.

What is also disturbing is the fact that the other members of the panel, Dr. Hugh Laird and Ms. Gale Manke, remained virtually invisible when the law was being deliberately broken.

However, the most incredible performance was put on by Attorney Jacqueline Schneider, special counsel to the president and general counsel of the University Attorney's Office, who served as special counsel to you and to the other six administrators charged with wrongdoing at this hearing. As an attorney, who is an officer of the court and who served recently as General Counsel to the Arizona Board of Regents, Ms. Schneider knew the Open Meeting law. At Professor Rieber's hearing she witnessed the circumvention of this law but chose to close her eyes and ears as the Arizona Daily Wildcat photographer Leijonhufvud was intimidated by you and Dr. Tischler and denied his right to make a photographic record of an open hearing.

It appears that there was a collusion, if not a conspiracy, by you as provost, Schneider as the university's highest ranking legal counsel, Tischler as the panel chair and Laird and Manke as CAFT panel members to undermine the state's long-standing Open Meeting statute at the CAFT hearing on Jan. 17, 1995.

Tien Wei Yang

Former Associate

Research Scientist in the Arid Lands Department

William Bickel

Physics Professor

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