Saturday, September 02, 2006

Register Article Presses Important Issues

On September 1, the Des Moines Register published an article which addressed former UD student Jason Price's subpoena and various other issues surrounding the Jeffries controversy.

Today's article is somewhat unique among those previously published to the extent that it explores some possible consequences of the University's actions. In particular, the article reports that Brian Cooper, the executive editor of the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, has expressed concern that the University's actions against Price and Jeffries, "might have a chilling effect on other people who might want to come forward and express concerns about how our public institutions or governmental bodies conduct their business."

Randy Brubaker, an editor at the Register is reported to have added, "“Certainly this has the potential to have a chilling effect, but not only for the media. It seems to me that a college or university, private as well as public, ought to be society’s most open marketplace of ideas - a place where students and faculty can ask questions and debate issues. This action would raise the question of whether freedom of speech is valued at the University of Dubuque.”

The article further reports that Peter Smith, one of the many vice presidents at UD, "doesn’t think the subpoena will have much effect on the willingness of students and faculty to speak out on issues since it’s directed at just one individual."

Mr. Smith's thoughts on this matter seem to illustrate just how out of touch UD administrators are with the issues at hand. In an almost laughable quote, Smith attempts to calm worries that the University is creating a hostile work environment by explaining, "People criticize the university in bars, gas stations, in private homes and public places and restaurants across the city, and there’s no prohibition against that.” Smith's obliviousness to the real concerns and fundamental issues at stake (viz., those raised by Cooper and Brubaker) is frustrating to say the least.

This frustration is compounded when one considers how utterly ironic it is that the upcoming Wendt Center keynote speaker will be Lynn Brewer, the famed Enron whistleblower. Brewer, who will speak on October 25, will presumably talk of her experiences as an executive who blew the lid on the injustices and illegal activities that occurred in that infamous corporation. We can all imagine Brewer's superiors saying, "You know Lynn, it's okay to criticize Enron when you're at the gas station or a restaurant, but let's not air our grievances in the media."

Given the University's own policies regarding such matters, one has to wonder why such a guest speaker was even invited. What could Brewer possibly say that doesn't expressly contradict the University's policies on some level?

As a final note, we strongly encourage everyone to call UD and register to attend Brewer's keynote address. With any luck Brewer may be available to field questions. And that has the potential to be very interesting.

14 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is of particular note that Brian Cooper of the Dubuque Telegraph Herald expressed concern regarding UD actions in view of the fact that his paper has done minimal reporting about this case. In fact, the subpoena of Jason Price, to my knowledge, has not yet been mentioned in the TH to this point.

Perhaps UD, through overlapping Board members, has been able to silence Cooper in his own paper.

Saturday, September 02, 2006 7:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did three different people come up with the term "chilling effect"?

[quote] “I think it could be said without much doubt that this will have a chilling effect at the school,” said Scharnau, a union leader at the university until his resignation in 1999.[/quote]

[quote]“This might have a chilling effect on other people who might want to come forward and express concerns about how our public institutions or governmental bodies conduct their business,” Cooper said.[/quote]

[quote]Des Moines Register Managing Editor Randy Brubaker agreed: “Certainly this has the potential to have a chilling effect, but not only for the media.[/quote]

Sunday, September 03, 2006 9:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter Smith was quoted: ”It’s perfectly standard in any number of legal settings to request information that legal counsel deems to be important.”

If the quote is true, then I ask, "Who is providing the $?"

The last time I checked, legal counsel works for the client who provides the $. In this case, UD is paying and the client has the right to tell legal counsel what can and cannot be done. Not the other way around.

I guess UD does not care who it offends in the probable futile quest to prove UD is right.

What happened to the Christian heritage of UD and the concept of forgivness?

Monday, September 04, 2006 5:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter Smith forgot another simple idea, how about UD does the right thing, and steps up to make it right with Jeffries? The university is probably under the impression that students and faculty are "over" this. Nothing could be further from the truth. But, who in their right mind would speak up? The consequences are far too severe...so terribly sad. Smith sounds really awful in the newspaper article. UD is starting to look and sound like Finley and John Knox...dumb move. Kudos to Brian Cooper...Tom Yunt from the TH just graduated with his MBA from UD, refreshing that the paper takes a stand that's appropriate.

Monday, September 04, 2006 9:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can three different people come up with the term "chilling effect"? Because the truth is instantly recognized!

Monday, September 04, 2006 10:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let recognize that over the years the Telegraph Herald through its owners look out for the corporate and business interests of Dubuque. It is a member of the controlled mainstream media in this country that does its dirty work by WITHHOLDING news. Not mentioning the Price affair is just another example of this.

Monday, September 04, 2006 10:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note that Telegraph Herald editor Brian Cooper was too embarrassed not to tell the truth when he spoke to the august Des Moines Register reporter, another newspaper person. Note also that he has not written an editorial saying the same thing and condemning the university for its hubris. He knows when his job is at stake.

Monday, September 04, 2006 10:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The out-of-touch attitudes of UD administrators surfaced once again in recent comments by Peter Smith regarding the slipping rank of UD according to U.S. News & World Report. Smith offered as an excuse that the ranking was affected by turmoil associated with 1999's "Transformation". Freshmen that year graduated several years ago, yet UD continues to blame its problems on faculty and students who are long-gone.

When will UD's leaders admit that they will not regain status and credibility as an academic institution as long as they remain on the censured list??

Wednesday, September 06, 2006 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forgiveness is not compatible with the loyalty cult that reigns with Bullock and the Executive Board at UD, as many former employees can attest. It is regrettable that the insecurity of those in charge results in harsh action against individuals who have no recourse available to them.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006 4:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any guesses on what the Monday court action will be? Any guesses as to when we will read about it in the TH>

Sunday, September 17, 2006 8:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Chilling effect" is standard terminology used by defenders of the First Amendment right of free speech and by columnists--both in describing situations in which the truth is endangered by the actions of a person or organization.

Sunday, September 17, 2006 11:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Concerned Alumnus said...

Anything new on campus regarding the Brewer speech during the Ethics conference? It's amazing that UD's spinmasters would risk bringing her in, that could really get out of control.


For an institution as ethically challenged as the University of Dubuque to sponsor any event that stresses ethics is not a wise move on their part.

Friday, October 06, 2006 12:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brewer will be no risk. She does not know the history of UD nor of the Jefferies affair so she will make no accusations. Most of the attendee either will not know either or are under administrative control.

Saturday, October 07, 2006 11:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see that Brewer's speech is scheduled for Wednesday. Will those attending be screened?

Saturday, October 21, 2006 12:48:00 PM  

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