Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Putting Up Walls

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Putting Up Walls

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Putting up walls

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An editorial from the Prince George Citizen, published Sept. 29:

On Monday, UNBC informed area news outlets about 13 recommendations made to the school by a task force appointed to address sexual violence on campus. The task force worked for two years on a report for the university and the recommendations flow from that report.

When asked for the actual report, instead of just the recommendations, UNBC president Daniel Weeks not only said no, he wasn't even sure he would release his written response to the task force's work.

"This can be a very sensitive topic. Just the recommendations themselves can be somewhat disturbing to some individuals and we want to make sure we're sensitive to some of the language that's in these reports and making sure that individuals are comfortable with it," Weeks said.

Sensitive why?

Because the task force found examples of negligence or impropriety by university students, staff or faculty?

Because there may have been serious, unreported incidents at UNBC?

We don't know because UNBC has decided the news media and the public don't need to know. Problems with sexual violence and a lack of action have been exposed at other B.C. universities, which is why the provincial government ordered post-secondary institutions to draft sexual misconduct policies by next May.

We'd rather not take the word of UNBC's president that there's nothing to see on his campus.

Our only avenue of appeal as a news organization is to file a Freedom of Information request, which we've done, for the report and any other information pertaining to it.

It's disappointing because the university regularly summons The Citizen and its fellow media outlets to their good news stories, like today's sign unveiling at the campus entrance or the announcement of the recommendations to prevent sexual violence on campus, but puts up walls the instant the story goes off-script.

To be fair to UNBC, this is standard practice by government and publicly-funded institutions.

Ironically, they damage their own self-interests out of their fear - largely misplaced - that Prince George's news media outlets have nothing else to do but make the public sector and their leaders look bad. …

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