Members of the Student Life Committee voted Tuesday to meet in executive session for the rest of the year, barring any non-members from committee meetings. This decision came after TKS Editor-In-Chief senior Tom Fucoloro published remarks made off the record during last week’s meeting in the Thoughts from the Embers section of last week’s TKS.
After the editorial’s publication, SLC member and psychology professor Tim Kasser sent an e-mail to Fucoloro and the faculty e-mail distribution list saying he was “extremely angry” that Fucoloro published off the record statements.
“I would add that your action only provides further support for the reason that I had wanted to talk about the presence of the press at SLC meetings, i.e., that TKS sometimes acts in ways that disrupts [sic] the functioning of the committee and that breaks the trust of the committee,” said Kasser in the e-mail.
Kasser later apologized for criticizing Fucoloro in front of the faculty.
In the editorial, Fucoloro said he only agreed to go off the record because SLC would have gone into executive session, effectively kicking him out of the meeting if he did not. He said he’d never written about a conversation that took place off the record before, but that “the committee’s threatening of press access was a huge abuse of their power that needs to be known.”
“I’m interested in these committees operating on some kind of guidelines for open and closed meetings. Especially SLC, which makes important decisions about student life, should operate more as an open meeting, allowing any concerned student to come in, publishing their agenda, advertising their time and location, things like that,” said Fucoloro.
SLC member and instructor of photography Mike Godsil voted against going into executive session. Godsil served for a year on the Galesburg city council, which operates under the Illinois Open Meetings Act. Under this act, committees can only go into executive session if the meeting will involve personnel issues, labor contract negotiations, land acquisition, or pending legal issues. No votes that would commit the city to action can be taken in executive session.
“Through that experience I found that even though sometimes [staying in open session] makes life difficult or embarrassing for individuals in those positions, I think the greater good is served by having that kind of openness,” said Godsil.
Still, Godsil admitted that his experience on SLC was limited to the last three meetings, and his disapproval of the committee’s decision was not meant to criticize them.
“I totally understand it’s been a challenging year for them, and the committee had a lot of barbs thrown its way from various directions, and members have tried their best to do a good job. I think in many ways they’re worn out or worn down, and I can appreciate that,” said Godsil.
Junior Angelo Kozonis also disapproved of the decision. Kozonis, a non-member of SLC who attended several SLC meetings to keep abreast of student interests, will no longer be allowed to attend.
“[The decision] shows what they value in those meetings, which is censored student opinion rather than more expansive student opinion,” said Kozonis. “They’re obviously responding to [Fucoloro’s editorial]. I don’t know why they’re taking it out on the whole student body,” he said.
“I’m sad that they chose to go into executive session instead of embracing the problems that we talked about last week,” said Fucoloro.
The executive members of Student Senate, minus committee chairs, are members of SLC. Vice President and senior Erica Jaffe could not be reached for comment on the issue. Dean of Students Xavier Romano and Communications Officer junior Elaine Wilson declined to comment, as did Senate President Brad Middleton, who said, “I don’t think I’ll be making any statements in TKS for the remainder of the year.”
Kasser met with the Broadcast and Internet Publications board Tuesday. No decisions regarding action against TKS or Fucoloro have yet been made.