Avid readers of the The Daily Campus might have noticed Thursday's piece "Policy: Media must go through university spokesman." The story describes a new policy that requires all journalists, student or otherwise, to contact the UConn communication's office before they can speak to members of the university's student affairs departments.
It is important to note that this is not a "UConn policy" but rather, as UConn spokeswoman Karen Grava said, it is "a John Saddlemire policy." Saddlemire, who is UConn's vice president of student affairs, is in charge of the organization's 15 departments, which include ResLife, Dining Services and the Dean of Students Office.
Find out the reason for the new policy and so much more after the jump.
According to Grava, the policy is designed to help ensure that journalists are speaking to the correct person when working on a story. In theory, that sounds good, though as the head of the Journalism department Maureen Croteau said in the article, it is likely that this new policy will only create extra work for the communications department and cause logjams.
Saddlemire told the paper:
"It has nothing to do with granting permission for contact with the media. All that the Division of Student Affairs has done is clarify for our employees the common practice that has long been in place by University Communications."
That may be, but as someone who has now spent several years covering the university, the policy strikes me as entirely unnecessary. In four years of covering the school, I have never come across a situation where I found it difficult to find the "right person" to speak with. If I had a question about housing, I called ResLife, if I had a question about health issues, I called Student Health Services, and, if I did not know whom to call, then I would call the communications office. I have no reason to believe there is any ulterior motive for the policies implementation, but adding an extra distance between students and an often aloof university of administration, seemingly adds nothing except red tape.
One final note: Saddlemire told the DC, "I know of no reporter who has been denied a response to a request for a response." As someone who has been denied access to speak with representatives from Student Health Services, I would just like Mr. Saddlemire to know that just because he does not hear about it, does not mean it does not happen.