Secrecy is the way non-elected officials in the LSU control business operations, according to the former chair of the Langara Journalism department
Rob Dykstra, who recently retired after 30 years in the department, said The Voice has long sought to report on issues related to the LSU but cannot.
Most of the meetings at the LSU are closed to the public, including students, who pay fees that go to the union. Members of the LSU only serve an average term of one year, Dykstra said.
“They could keep the elected people in the dark,” said Dykstra in an interview Thursday. “Half the time the elected people didn’t know what was going on.”
“They emptied out all the boxes and threw the papers away”
In the past when The Voice published negative stories toward the LSU, Dykstra said, it appeared the LSU, under orders from the executive director, tried to thwart those articles from getting to the general student population.
“As soon as The Voice was distributed, they went around and they emptied out all the boxes and threw the papers away.”
Journalists have to hold people in power accountable
The role of journalists, Dykstra said, is to hold accountable people in positions of power and provide information to readers. The LSU has a different mandate, according to him.
“The way they take control is they keep information from students,” Dykstra said. “The only solution is to have an open and accountable student government.”
Anonymous letter left troubling allegations
Last year, an anonymous letter left at the door of a journalism instructor made troubling allegations against the LSU. But, due to the anonymity, the contents couldn’t be proven and the LSU refused to speak to reporters, even filing a formal complaint against one journalism student.
Vincent Matak, a former editor with The Voice, said the paper tried to find out more about the allegations.
“It was really unfortunate from a student journalist’s perspective just not being able to hold those people to account,” Matak said.
LSU refused to release information
The LSU threw up obstacles in their refusal to release any information on their procedures or budgets, according to Matak, and only allowed access to meeting minutes after multiple appeals.
“We weren’t actually allowed to do any sort of reporting with any of the information we were granted access. All we could do is sit down in the LSU office and review it. We weren’t allowed to take any notes, we weren’t allowed to duplicate the information.”
Matak said changes won’t happen until students take a more vested interest in how their fees are used.
“There definitely needs to be a mass rally for students to expect more from their government and for the student paper as well to push for more,” he said Thursday.