March 31, 2008

NEWS: Student Petition

The Ledger is on a roll this issue with three, that's right, three compelling news stories.

An investigation by Linda Friedel reveals that a few students in the college's Interior Design classes want to force an instructor to change her teaching style which allegedly includes intimidation and humiliation.
Some students say they are fed up with their treatment from a faculty member who is their advisor and mentor.
Read the rest of the story here: Petition in Design Department Calls for Change

COMMENTARY: Safety Survey Finally Surfaces

Safety Survey Seeks to Substantiate Armed Officers

Randy Garcia (left), evening supervisor of DPS, and Chuck Northcott (right), DPS officer, demonstrate techniques for using pepper spray in the training room at the Police Academy. The entire department will go through both baton and pepper spray training. Photo by Alexia Lang. Courtesy of The Campus Ledger

After providing budget, training, and equipment college seeks permission for actions

The college's Institutional Research department sent me this e-mail last week. But since I was sick, I let it sit. I finally read it and to my surprise, it's the often invoked and untimely armed campus survey.
In an effort to increase campus security, the College has undertaken a review of whether the JCCC Public Safety Department should become an official police department and arm those officers who are state certified. Currently, the JCCC Public Safety Department has a large number of retired police officers with over 670 years of combined law enforcement experience.

As part of this review process, the Office of Institutional Research has been asked to survey JCCC students, faculty, and staff. The survey consists of five short questions and should only take a minute to complete. All responses will be kept strictly confidential and reported as grouped data only; you will never be identified as the source of individual replies or comments. If you have any questions, please contact me at 913-469-8500 ext. 2443 or email me at

We would greatly appreciate it if you would complete the survey as soon as possible but no later than April 4th, 2008.

Thank you in advance for your contribution to this important project.

Please click the following link to access the survey:
I don't know if it's open to the public but it should be. So in the interest of transparency, anyone interested in voicing an opinion should feel free to use the link sent to me.

One of the five questions (is that all?) asks if the college should use batons and pepper spray. Its a bit late to ask, isn't it?

Last Thursday, The Ledger's Matt Galloway wrote an update to his guns on campus story noting that the college has already trained officers in use of pepper spray and batons.

Related: JCCCPD, Meeting on Safety, Cops Gone Wild

NEWS: Missing Student update

Last Thursday, Matt Galloway, news editor for The Campus Ledger, published his controversial update on the missing student. The article explained why the student went missing and how the initial reaction of the college blocked initial search efforts.
When a student went missing from campus on Feb. 14, her father turned to the first college employees he could find for assistance.
He said those employees couldn’t have been any ruder in his hour of need.
Read the rest of the story here: Disappearing student tests college’s emergency response

March 24, 2008

INFOLIST: Center for Student Involvement

Posted on the college's electronic mail server, Infolist:


You are cordially invited to the Center for Student Involvement Open House on Wednesday, March 26, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., COM 309. The Center for Student Involvement exists to provide an environment in which students can become and remain actively involved in JCCC extracurricular life. We are fully-equipped with workspace for over 20 organizations, internet access, color printing, a spacious conference room, and a friendly staff to facilitate networking between students. Being a true culmination of student ideas and actions, the center proudly displays artwork from the JCCC art department while serving as home base for both the Golden Girls and the Academic Excellence Challenge Team. Please stop by and take a refreshing glance at the future of JCCC student life! Beverages and snacks will be provided. If you have any questions, please contact either Holly Stayton at x.3534 or or Calvin McConnell at x.2807 or

Finally! It's great to have a space for students who enhance student life at JCCC by participating in clubs. Yet, I have to ask, "Why isn't the Center for Students located in the Student Center?"

March 21, 2008


Walking on the Ledge:

Margret Spellings, U.S. Secretary of Education, announces new brochures to help guide schools on disclosing student information. She made the announcement with Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security Secretary (left), and Carlos Gutierrez, Commerce Secretary (right), Oct. 31, 2008.

The battle over student information comes down to FERPA

The incident with the missing student and the e-mail assault that took place after got me thinking about FERPA, the Family Education Rights Privacy Act.

FERPA, or the Buckley Amendment, stands as one of the major points of contention between student media and college officials. Usually neither camp understands the finer points of FERPA that allows and promotes disclosing information.

Following the shootings at Virginia Tech last April, the Department of Education issued a guidance to college administrators that focuses on how to disclose information under FERPA. It supports the act's original provision that states:

An educational agency or institution may disclose personally identifiable information from an education record to appropriate parties in connection with an emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.

In addition, campus police departments, like the one JCCC wants to establish, cannot withhold information under FERPA. According to the Student Press Law Center:
FERPA mandates that schools cannot release a student's educational record without that student's consent, but a 1992 amendment to the law clarifies that records maintained and created by a ‘law enforcement unit’ of a college or university do not fall under FERPA's restrictions.
While student journalists may now have some leverage in accessing information, they still face the misconception -- endorsed by administrators -- that they cannot publish it.

However, the College Media Advisers blog, Inside CMA, notes that FERPA disclosure restrictions do not apply to student media because they are not agents of the college.
This issues comes up at least once a year on the listserv and has come up a million times in the gazillion law sessions I’ve done at CMA conventions. The Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (aka-Buckley Amendment) applies to 'colleges and universities' releasing information. Certainly at public schools, the courts have made it clear that would student editors make decisions, they are not 'government actors.' Thus, for FERPA purposes information released by a student media organization is not information released by the university.
Student journalists often have trouble navigating the waters of campus journalism especially if an administrator dosen't know the law or intentionally cites a violation where none exists.

Yet, the responsibility does not rest entirely on administrators. If student journalists want to ride the rapids, they better master the essential policies, procedures and skills or else they'll find themselves up a creek without a paddle.

March 20, 2008

TIME OUT: Link Spotlight
Why are you angry today?

I must confess my recent addiction to We journalists love our Internet resources but this site doesn't offer coaching -- just bitching. It taps into the visceral voice of frustrated freelancers, enraged editors, fiery photogs and an occasional stewed student journalist.

Though reading (and posting) messages at the site reminds me of a scene from one of my favorite movies, "Network."

Just for fun Keith Oberman's version:


Campus Crime Information Vital in Keeping Students Safe

By Adam Goldstein

Universities receiving federal funding are presented with a fine line to walk when it comes to opening and providing their records. On the one hand, colleges have a mandate to protect student privacy; on the other hand, campus crime information must be made available to the student body. There is little room for error between these two obligations, because both are designed to protect the safety of students.

The obligation to disclose crime information was imposed to correct a tragic error of omission.

On April 5, 1986, Jeanne Clery was raped and murdered by a fellow student. Jeanne, a 19-year-old freshman at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, had her throat cut with a broken beer bottle and was strangled to death by an attacker who passed through three unlocked, propped-open doors to reach her.

Each of those doors could have been, and should have been, locked. But Jeanne, like many students at Lehigh, did not know that there had been reports of violent crime on the campus; they did not know that there were simple steps they could take to protect themselves.

It was with this in mind that the Campus Security Act, later renamed in honor of Jeanne Clery, was signed into law in 1990. The Clery Act requires all colleges receiving federal funds to maintain open daily crime logs, report annual crime statistics, and provide a "timely warning" to the campus when crimes present a serious or continuing threat to students and employees.

It is sad that the need to share campus crime information came at the cost of a young woman’s life. It is sadder still that some universities two decades later still had not learned from that tragedy.

On Dec. 15, 2006, Laura Dickinson’s body was found in her dorm room at Eastern Michigan University, where she had died four days earlier. The next day, the university issued a press release to the community informing students about the death and stating that there was "no reason to suspect foul play."

Ten weeks later, a suspect — a fellow student — was arrested and charged with homicide and criminal sexual misconduct in the death of Laura Dickinson. It was revealed that, at the time the press release was issued suggesting nothing violent about Laura's death, the University knew her body had been found naked with a pillowcase over her head.

In July 2007, the Department of Education found that Eastern Michigan University had failed to adhere to the provisions of the Clery Act. In fact, the report found — among other things — that in 2003, 2004 and 2005, the university had failed to properly disclose crime statistics, and the crime log had also been improperly maintained, in that Laura's death was not listed as a homicide within 48 hours of that information being known to the school.

"Not only did EMU fail to disclose information that would enable the campus community to make informed decisions and take necessary precautions to protect themselves, but it issued misleading statements from the outset, providing false reassurance that foul play was not suspected, and that it had no knowledge of an ongoing criminal/homicide investigation prior to the arrest of the suspect," the Department of Education report said.

The failure to correctly report crime statistics in prior years is especially sad, as it was the hope among those who championed the Clery Act that this information might have led Jeanne to take more precautions.

Had it been correct at Eastern Michigan, it might have led Laura to take more precautions, too.

The trial for the suspect in Laura Dickinson's death is ongoing, and Eastern Michigan University has been fined for its violation. The university has acknowledged its failure to maintain the provisions of the Clery Act, though it is appealing the amount of the fine later levied: $357,000.

No fine will bring Laura back, just as no law could bring Jeanne back. But it was the federal law passed in the aftermath of Jeanne's murder that was supposed protect Laura. And what lesson can we learn from the events before and after Laura’s death?

What we know is that, on some campuses, they have not learned the bloody lessons from an April night over two decades ago. And what we do not know is how many bodies it will take for those lessons to sink in.

Incidents like the shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University have brought a renewed focus on the importance of campus security officers sharing information honestly and quickly after a tragedy begins. But we must not forget that the obligation — both legal and moral — to protect college students begins long before the first bullet is fired. It begins before the murder, before the rape, before the burglary; it begins even before the first-year student arrives on campus.

The obligation to protect college students begins with giving students honest and accurate information about the crime on campus so that the student can protect himself or herself.

And the institution that plays a public relations game with that information is putting its image above the lives of its students.

Goldstein is attorney advocate for the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va.

March 19, 2008

SUNSHINE WEEK: Vote for Sunshine

Presidential Candidates Illuminate stance on Sunshine Laws

Sunshine Week organizers collaborated with México Abierto (Open Mexico) to examine the 2008 U.S. presidential candidates’ positions on open government laws and their interactions with the news media.

According to the report, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) stands as the only candidate who responded to the Sunshine Week open government survey. Sen. Barak Obama (D-IL) stands as the only candidate to sign th e Oath of Presidential Transparency.

Obama is the only candidate to release his tax information. Clinton pledges to release her tax information in April. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has no plans to release his tax information.

Last November, organizers of this year's Sunshine Week launched their Sunshine Campaign. The initiative focuses on open government issues surrounding local and national elections.

Here is the Sunshine Week article:

Sen. Hillary Clinton

Sen. Clinton has included her proposals on open government issues in a 10-point plan for government reform.

"This is a plan to enhance accountability and transparency and make government more efficient and effective for taxpayers," Clinton said in an April 2007 speech announcing the plan. "To replace secrecy and mystery with transparency."

Among the plan's open government proposals are: ending no-bid government contracts and posting all federal contracts online, publishing the budgets of every government agency, bringing back the Office of Technology Assessment to safeguard scientific integrity, and putting more government services online. Clinton also calls for stronger protection for government whistleblowers.

Read Clinton's responses to the Sunshine Week open government survey.

On the Records

Clinton's commitment to transparency has been questioned, however, over the time it took to release records covering her activities during Bill Clinton's presidency. The records, housed at her husband's presidential library in Arkansas, were first reviewed by the National Archives and Records Administration, and then sent to Clinton advisers for review. This process is required under an executive order signed by President Bush in 2001.

During the Feb. 26 debate in Cleveland, Clinton was asked again about release of the records, particularly since they'd been cleared by the Archives.

"I've urged that the process be as quick as possible," she replied. "It's a cumbersome process, set up by law. It doesn't just apply to us; it applies to everyone in our position. And I have urged that our end of it move as expeditiously as we can." Clinton also called on the White House to move quickly on its review of the information, which is also a step proscribed by the executive order.

In early March, the first batch of daily calendars was released, but Archives officials said it would be at least another year, maybe two, before phone logs would be similarly available, according to a report in The Hill.

Clinton is expected to release her tax returns "on or around April 15," according to ABC News.

Press Matters

The Bill Clinton administration was marked by a "long and wary relationship with the press," according to an analysis by The First Amendment Center. One of Clinton's first acts upon moving to the White House in 1993 reportedly was to end "the routine access to the West Wing that reporters covering the White House had enjoyed for decades."

The First Amendment Center analysis noted: "More than 14 years later, by many accounts, Sen. Clinton still has disdain for journalists and their prying predilections. But her years in the White House, in the Senate and now in the presidential campaign have taught her she needs at least to get along with the press and tolerate its excesses, at least most of the time, without exacting revenge."

Sen. John McCain

In the Lobbying and Ethics Reform section of his campaign Web site, McCain discusses the importance of transparency mainly in relation to earmarks and lobbyists' access to and influence over lawmakers.

"A democratic government operates best in the disinfecting light of the public eye. Ethics and transparency are not election year buzz words; they are the obligations of democracy and the duties of honorable public service," McCain is quoted.

Regarding earmarks, the site says, "As President, John McCain would shine the disinfecting light of public scrutiny on those who abuse the public purse, use the power of the presidency to restore fiscal responsibility, and exercise the veto pen to enforce it."

A Mixed Bag

McCain has supported the release of Congressional Research Service reports to the public, and has spoken in favor of a federal shield law for reporters. "It may require more debate and all that, but I really feel that freedom of the press is a constitutional right, as we all know, and should be protected as much as humanly possible," he told the Arizona Republic.

An analysis by The First Amendment Center, however, finds that McCain is often willing to place achieving other goals such as campaign finance reform and banning flag burning above free speech rights. For example, of the McCain-Feingold campaign legislation, which was criticized for restricting political speech, McCain argued that limiting pre-election ads was a "limited and tolerable" speech control made necessary by the "compelling government interest at stake."

McCain reportedly also has supported the continued classification of certain records from the Vietnam War.

Press Matters

A January article in The Washington Post noted McCain's "infinite access" to the reporters covering his campaign — and his ability to engage in great conversations.

When asked if that would continue if he were the Republican nominee, McCain told the Post that he wouldn't stop because it would hurt his credibility to do so. In addition, McCain said he enjoys it.

Of course, that was all before a February New York Times article about a possibly inappropriate relationship between McCain and a female lobbyist. The next day McCain denied the accusations and one of his senior advisers strongly criticized the Times, likening its reporting to tabloid journalism.

McCain has refused to release his income tax returns, The Washington Post reported.

Sen. Barack Obama

Obama has outlined an ambitious transparency plan that incorporates technology to "help connect government to its citizens and engage citizens in a democracy."

Among the proposals in Obama's plan to open government are: putting government data online in accessible formats; airing live webcasts of agency meetings; restoring scientific integrity; allowing people to track federal grants, contracts, earmarks and lobbyist contacts online; and allowing five days for public to review and comment on legislation online before its signed.

In an October 2007 speech, Obama pledged to "turn the page on a growing empire of classified information, and restore the balance we've lost between the necessarily secret and the necessity of openness in a democratic society by creating a new National Declassification Center."

Past is Prologue

One of Obama's most visible Senate actions on the open government front was his co-sponsorship of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2008 with the launch of, a Web site that gives people access to information on government contracts, grants and other awards.

As an Illinois state senator, Obama co-sponsored the Verbatim Record Bill, requiring public agencies to video or audio record closed door meetings, The First Amendment Center reported, noting the law was the first of its kind enacted by any state.

Obama is the only remaining candidate to have signed the Reason Foundation's Oath of Presidential Transparency, and, according to The Washington Post he is the only leading candidate to have released his income tax returns.

The Chicago Sun-Times, however, pointed out several instances where Obama's transparency has been a little more opaque. Among them is the inability to produce records from his term as state senator, which Obama says is due simply to the lack of archivist resources.

Press Matters

Much has been made recently of the national news media's infatuation with Obama, which was skewered in a much-discussed Saturday Night Live skit that even prompted comments from Clinton about its veracity.

But as Bloomberg News columnist Maggie Carlson noted, members of the news media "are reacting to charges that they have gone easy on Obama." It is "the nature of the press to have severe morning-after regret for having gotten a lump in the throat over a candidate," she wrote.

Reporting in The Washington Post earlier this year discussed Obama's lack of engagement with — even insulation from — the press covering his campaign. "Obama often goes days without taking questions from national reporters, and when he does, the sessions can be slapdash affairs.... Some reporters say Obama seems disdainful toward journalists, having submitted to precisely one off-the-record chat over beer several months ago in Iowa."

March 17, 2008

NEWS: More Moore

Dennis Moore (D-Kan.) sent a message promoting his Government Procurement Conference at JCCC. Moore served on the college's Board of Trustees from 1993 - 1998.

On Wednesday, March 26, 2008, I will be hosting a Government Procurement Conference at Johnson County Community College. This one-day event will offer businesspeople an affordable way to learn more about marketing their products and services to local, state and federal governments. Registration for attendees and exhibitors is now open.

The conference will feature the Honorable Kathleen Sebelius, Governor of Kansas, as keynote speaker; and luncheon speaker Col. Tim Weatherbee, Fort Leavenworth. Additionally, exhibitors will be on hand to provide face-to-face contacts with government agencies and breakout sessions will provide detailed information on how to compete for all types of government contracts.

The Third District is home to many small businesses, so we must work together to make sure that businesses in this area receive their fair share of federal dollars. This conference, which is modeled after Congressman Ike Skelton's very successful annual conference, will give small businesses in the Third District the information and contacts they need to compete for federal contracts.

Government Procurement Conference
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
7:30 a.m. – 3:45 p.m.
Regnier Center, Capitol Federal Conference Room
Johnson County Community College
12345 College Blvd.
Overland Park, KS 66210

The Regnier Center is on the east side of the campus and ample parking is available.

To register or see a conference schedule click here. A registration fee of $45 includes all sessions, continental breakfast and lunch. For more information, call my office at 913-383-2013.

The event is presented in cooperation with Heartland Procurement Technical Assistance Center, the Johnson County Community College Small Business Development Center and the Kansas Women’s Business Center.

Very truly yours,
Member of Congress

SUNSHINE WEEK: Let the Sun Shine

March 16 - 22

March 14, 2008

INFOLIST: Cops Gone Wild?

With students on spring break will

Overland Park Police conduct an "active shooter" training for JCCC public safety officers Dec. 19, 2007.
Photo by John Young, courtesy of The Campus Ledger

Visitors to campus next week will find the Overland Park's finest flashing -- their badges.

According to a posting on the college's electronic mail server, Infolist, it's all part of of an officer's training that will take place during spring break.

Over spring break the Overland Park Police Department will be conducting some officers’ driving training on campus in the Train, Clock West and Clock East lots.

Last December, the OPPD conducted an "active shooter" training on campus in the Carlsen Center for the college's public safety officers.

Also in December the Board of Trustees agreed to place an OPPD officer on campus starting January 2008 for trail period of six months.

In February, the Board of Trustees approved purchasing bullet-proof vests, OC (pepper) spray and a batons along with two fully-equipped police vehicles.

Despite these actions, the college maintains it has not decided on whether to allowing public safety officers to carry weapons or if it will create a college police force.

INFOLIST: Board Meetings

From the college's electronic mail server, Infolist:

The Johnson County Community College board of trustees will start its regular monthly meeting March 27 one hour earlier – at 4 p.m. instead of 5 p.m. The board meets in the Hugh Speer board room, 137 GEB, on the JCCC campus. All board of trustees meetings are open to the public.

The Johnson County Community College board of trustees will meet for a retreat from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 19, in room 212 of the Nerman Museum. Among the issues to be discussed are facilities, policy governance and campus safety.

March 13, 2008

NEWS: Adored Award

Lost and Found
Reading program researches missing award's history

by Miguel M. Morales

Academic Achievement Center staff have been working to learn how an award presented to them by the Student Senate ended up at the Salvation Army. (See original posting here.)

Roz Bethke, professor of reading for the Academic Achievement Center, said she's been talking to staff and has come up with a partial explanation.

Using the dates noted on the award, staffers discovered that in the late 1990s the AAC had set up a free reading shelf for students. The intent was to allow students to take a book and leave a book.

"It was set up on a donation system," Bethke said.

The Student Senate took notice of the effort and presented the Reading program with an award.

Bethke said the AAC proudly displayed the plaque on the shelf with the books.

The shelf stood near the Student Desk, which was located on the second floor of the Commons building. When the Student Center opened in 2000, the Student Desk subsequently relocated to the first floor of the new building.

"Eventually the book cases, the books, and the plaque disappeared. Maybe the shelves just ran out of books--we don't know."

Yet, the mystery of how the award ended up at the Salvation Army thrift store remains.

Nevertheless, Bethke said the staff looks forward to the return of the award where they will -- once again -- display it proudly.

CULTURE: Prom Donations

College office professionals seek donations for students needing prom attire

This item appeared on the JCCClist. It comes from OPL, the college's Office Professionals League.

I think it's a wonderful idea. If I had any nice clothes, I'd certai
nly give them.

It will soon be Prom Time at high schools across the area. Young ladies will be shopping for that special dress and young men for a new suit, jacket or tuxedo to wear for the big night. However, at some of the high schools in the Cross-Lines' neighborhood, there is no extra money for anything that extravagant in their family budget. In the past, many of the young ladies have gone to their proms in a skirt and blouse or just a simple dress. Young men have worn casual slacks and a shirt.

This year the OPL Community Service committee is wanting to lend a hand to this organization and help make these kids prom a memorable and special occasion. Cross-Lines organization will be collecting donated clothes of these sorts to distribute at no charge, to the young high school students in the area. Cross-Lines is requesting donations of current style prom dresses, suits and sport coats. The items need to be clean and in excellent condition since the organization has no funds to have them cleaned.

Cross-Lines is a wonderful organization that provides an environment that instills both hope and belief in the individual's potential for positive change. Cross-Lines assists participants by combining traditional social work services with life job skill training focused on self-sufficiency.

We hope that those of you out there who have prom dresses, suits or sport jackets and are not using them will be able to donate them to this cause.

We are on a time crunch here as the organization needs these items by March 25th…. If you have items to donate please bring them to the following people:

If you can drop these item off to any of us listed below by 3/21/08 we can get them to Cross-Line in time.

Betty Uko SC 319 ext 2417
Berni Freeman CSB 170 ext 3555
Debbie Ross CC 115 x 3733
Janele Sumner OCB 264 x 2788

On behalf of OPL we thank you.

March 12, 2008

WTF: Abhorred Award

Last week, I purchased this award from the Salvation Army in Olathe, Kan. for $1.99 (plus tax).

Winning an award is great but being given an unsolicited award for a job well-done is priceless -- especially when it comes from students. I hope it was some sort of mistake but I can't imagine how this ended up in a thrift store.

What is wrong with this place?? I can't even ... why would ... I mean ... what the hell?

I don't even know if I want to give it back.


OK so I e-mailed someone from the the Reading department about the award. She contacted me and said the award could have ended up at the thrift store after a former facilitator for the
Academic Achievement Center, which houses Reading dept, passed away. It could have also been some disorganized or disgruntled former employee. Who knows?

She also said a professor emeritus is completing a Senior Scholar project which includes documenting the history of the department.

I hope the tale of the abandoned award will be included as well as some recommendations (for the entire campus) on how to keep track of awards so this doesn't happen again. I'd be awfully upset if I walked into Goodwill to find The Ledger's All-Kansas award in a pile of rusted silverware.

I'll hand over the goods to her sometime this week.

CALENDAR: Soliciting Strategies

Posted on the college's electronic mail server, Infolist:


The JCCC Strategic Planning Council will host an open forum soliciting ideas for new strategic initiatives, and all employees and students are invited. On Friday, April 11, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., in COM 319, the Council will review progress made on the six current strategic initiatives and then will engage in a discussion with attendees addressing potential future college goals that may be added to the institutional strategic plan.

A lively conversation is anticipated, but participants can come and go as schedules permit. If you have questions or comments, please contact Dana Grove at or at ext. 3196.

For an overview of the JCCC Strategic Planning Committee, minutes of past meetings and other committee documents click here.

March 11, 2008


Ironically, the original e-mail carried the subject line:[jccc] Campus Ledger: Rachel Wooldridge (missing student) follow up

The controversy that set off the firestorm of postings centered on concern for the privacy of the girl who went missing. Well, in the 22 posted responses, no one felt concerned enough to remove her name from the subject line when they posted a new message...


This is what seems to be the final round of postings concerning the student newspaper.

Editor's Note: The following appeared on the JCCClist and are not private e-mail conversations.

I don’t watch the news a couple times a day. I never watch the news. It’s sensationalist, biased garbage and I don’t feel the lack of it. I don’t like to invade other people’s privacy and see their problems aired in front of the world. I think the people at the service at Ward Parkway for the people that were killed had the right idea in keeping the media away from the service. Watching other people’s hardships is like stopping at a train wreck to see what we can see. Apparently it’s human nature to want to watch the suffering of others, but I find it distasteful. Look at our television – all those horrid reality shows where we watch people argue and fight with each other, or watch them reveal truths and embarrass others in a public forum. It’s disgraceful.

It takes all kinds, and I know some people enjoy always knowing the “whys” of every situation. I personally don’t think what happened to this girl is any of my business. Perhaps if the story were about how the campus responded and how we can make the response system better, then that’s a different matter. But finding out why she got on the bus rather than waiting for her dad? What does that have to do with me, and why is it my business?

Why can’t we have good reporting without sticking cameras and microphones into people’s faces who are suffering from some personal tragedy and asking them inane questions, like “How do you feel about your daughter’s death?” I mean really now.

A previous poster who asked about creating a prayer group at the college added:
Our family has been a victim of the news media. My 2 year old nephew died of the flu in 2003, in Chicago. It has to be, still, the most painful, heart wrenching experience ever. He died on a Monday morning, the media was calling my sister's house till midnight that day. And on Tuesday when we woke up, they had the house surrounded. They were questioning neighbors (who didn't know anything), and his school. The news media couldn't even report the story of his death right. And above that they were everywhere, the funeral, the memorial, everywhere. We had no privacy to grieve. Since then I have lost a lot of trust with the media.

My only suggestion to current & future journalists is, if you are going to report a story, do it with integrity, and honesty. Do not do it for the "Shock Value". There is a fine line in what we need to know & peoples privacy. They are dealing with real people's lives, & I think human value sometimes has been cast aside for the "scoop" or "deadline". So just put yourself in the victim's family shoes, and then decide if a story needs to be run or not.
A computer lab assistant offers his view:

101 Ethics Of Journalism: Some Suggestions

I think this animated discussion highlights why there should be a mandatory class in Journalism focused strongly on “Ethics Of Journalism”. A student undertaking this field should complete this suggested course before completion of the major/certificate/degree in Journalism and Media Communications. Such a class at JCCC would be innovative and improve offerings in an already vibrant well thought out curriculum The entire student staff of The Ledger should also be required to have completed this course before assuming their duties.

As forms of mass communication, become ubiquitous and more adversarial in questioning the central concepts of the individual’s rights for privacy. Journalism can only improve in this situation because of the consumer’s demand to be ethical informed and likewise a fair balancing of the rights of those being portrayed within the media in an objective human way.

Much of the problems of the information revolution is an inability to make ethical or reasonable use of the data. We improve our technologies but not our ethical responsibility to our fellow citizens.

I can only hope that this little incident can bring about change and understanding of ethical behavior for those self- describing “truth seekers” A grounding in Journalism’s profession ethical core can only strengthen a fine program.

Platitudes are not sufficient reasons for violating student privacy. Ones ethical options should be well thought out and based on common respect and the professionalism. An understanding of the industries best practices and the current law can only be instructive in this area.

I think that as a educational community this impasse of philosophical difference allows us to strengthen our outreach and improve aspects of our mission critical beliefs, in support of both transparency and the protection of student privacy .

Just the musing of a observer. … Now please play nice….

BREAKING NEWS: Listerve Smackdown

Postings concerning the student newspaper continued through the day ...

Editor's Note: The following appeared on the JCCClist and are not private e-mail conversations.

I don't think you're a bully and an ass, and I appreciate the work you do with the paper. I've never been at a school where the paper did a better job of tackling the real issues on campus.

My concern is for the sake of the student in terms of something that, it seems to me, is a fairly private matter. "Getting it" is rarely as simple as black and white, and maybe it took a little of this flare up to get at what the issues are in terms of continuing to deal with this story.

I am just concerned with why we are keeping her name out there.

Another employee chimed in:
I think it’s shameful that we are teaching our students to ignore good taste and common decency to “get the story.” I guess that’s what they will need to make it in the world of journalism, but it’s still a shame.
A response came from Carmaletta Williams, executive assistant to the president, Diversity Initiatives:
I hesitated and thought about this long and hard and still am hesitant about jumping into the fray, but I really think we are misplacing our anger.

We all watch the news a couple of times a day and become voyeurs into the lives of people we don't know. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we are doing it for our own safety, so we can avoid those places where trouble happens.

Well, trouble happens everywhere, even here at Johnson County Community College.

We were eager to hear the news, any kind of news, that gave us hope and helped us feel like we might find Kelsey Smith alive. Just thinking about what happened to that beautiful young woman, someone's daughter, sibling, and friend tears us up inside. I was especially upset and saddened when I learned through the news media that they had found her body not more than six blocks from where I live.

We are still reading the posters and keeping an ear to the ground for any news that Kara Kopetsky might just be a runaway and is safe and alive somewhere trying to teach her parents a lesson by making them worry about her.

We hope that those viscious idiots that stole a woman's purse and car-jacked her van with her baby in the back seat are safely locked away and out of our sphere.

We watch the news and hope that the insane woman, she had to be insane, who left a two-year-old baby girl in the house alone for God knows how long in a house that was burned by arsonists is taught a severe lesson.

But carjackings, kidnappings, child neglect and abuse, and murders happen every day in all kinds of places. We know that because we watch the news and read the paper.

This girl at JCCC we now know was not kidnapped, but she could have been.

My nine-year-old granddaughter/daughter was kidnapped when she was 5 and those were the worse eleven days of my life. I was anxious for news, any kind of news, that would bring that child home to me. I spent every penny I had to find her. Finally, the situation broke and I was able to find her and get her back.

I understand the missing girl's father's angst in thinking that his daughter had been harmed. His daughter could have been victim to all kinds of crimes.

We need to take a lesson from this situation.

We need to be alert to shifts in behavior. When something doesn't feel right, it usually isn't. When someone tells us they need our aid we need to provide it. I'm not suggesting that we become personally involved, which in many cases would be very dangerous, but we can all pick up a red phone in the hallways and call 4-1-1-1 or our cell phones and dial 9-1-1.

I think this e-mail situation worsened with the threat from an administrator of government intervention. Come on. What was that all about? It made us want to know more. Why would the government be investigating people that were inquiring?

We should stop hacking on the people that report the news. We need them to inform us of danger and dangerous situations and we also need them to reassure us that all is well.

Above all, we need to stop threatening people for no good reason. We should focus our talents and our energies on positive aspects like helping, clarifying, and informing.
The adviser of The Ledger stepped in:
Good journalism is about getting the facts, about finding out the "why" of a situation long after the cameras have been turned off and the sound bites are over. Good journalism is about digging for information beyond the surface, and using the information you gather in a responsible, reasonable manner that limits harm while addressing a greater good.

No one, as far as I know, has sensationalized this incident. No one has printed anything that invades privacy or constitutes libel. In fact, no one has printed anything other than the initial story. And if you reread that story, a key piece of missing information is "why." Perhaps, after the reporter investigates, he will find that the initial "why" isn't a story -- a youthful indiscretion. But why didn't the text messaging system work? How, given the many violent acts that have recently occurred on campuses throughout the country, should a campus react to an emergency situation like this one? Did this incident show us that we are indeed ready for such an event? That is the "why" of the story.

The reporter can't decide what to print until he first asks the questions. Maybe it is intrusive, but remember how the incident intruded on the day-to-day life here at the college.

It seems to me that the person who is ignoring common decency is the individual who calls another person an ass in a listserv. Let's not rush to judgment before pen is put to paper, so to speak...

Anne Christiansen-Bullers
adviser, The Campus Ledger
The poster responds to the adviser:

“It seems to me that the person who is ignoring common decency is the individual who calls another person an ass in a listserv. Let's not rush to judgment before pen is put to paper, so to speak...”

I called him a bully and an a ASS Please get it right. I was using common decency, you should have read the first email I wanted to send! My common decency won out!

He should not have made a threat to an JCCC employee who was reminding people that there are Federal laws in place about talking about students and employee privacy.

As and employee I have attended several classes to inform me about these laws. The school takes them VERY seriously. For example, I have 4 people that I supervise. If one of the comes to me and tells me they will be gone 3 days for medical reasons. I can not ask what medical condition is, I have to refer them to HR and have them fill out paperwork. If the person tells me what is going on that is OK but I can not tell anybody what the reason is for their absents. That is a FEDERAL LAW.

Let’s turn this around to something positive. Would the paper be interested in how JCCC has help raise over $60,000, that goes to medical research and scholarships for kids with brain tumors.

BREAKING NEWS: Veiled Threats

In an attempt to follow up on the student who went missing from JCCC, the campus newspaper sent a message to one of the college's electronic mail server, JCCClist.

The message sent to by Matt Galloway, news editor of The Campus Ledger, asked those who knew the student to offer insight on the day in question.

Editor's Note: The following appeared on the JCCClist and are not private e-mail conversations.
Hey everyone,

We're doing a follow up story on the details of the case and performance of the college during the missing student situation on Feb. 14, as reported in Issue 10.

For those of you who don't know, Rachel Wooldridge, a student at the college, disappeared and was later found in Lawrence after the OPPD and DPS scoped the college, even local news put it as the lead in some of their telecasts.

YOU CAN HELP US if you ever had her in one of your classes, or if you saw anything of note on the 14th that might be worthy of printing. We appreciate any help!

If you had her in a class before or if you know her personally and would like to comment WITH ANY PERSPECTIVE, just reply to this email and let me know! But I am on a deadline and I will need to talk to you about it soon.

Thank you very much,

Matt Galloway
News Editor

The Campus Ledger
An hour later Paul Kyles, dean of Student Services sent the following message:
Dear JCCC,

I would highly recommend that no one respond to Matthew's request for information regarding Rachel.

This is a warning for your protection related to privacy issues.
I would hate for anyone to have an unnecessary encounter with the Federal Gov.

Thank You

Paul Kyle
Dean of Student Services.
To which my reply was:
I would recommend that the Dean of Student Services refrain from warning anyone who wishes to cooperate with the student press that he or she may be subject to investigation.

Mr. Kyle has no idea what kind of information might be exchanged. Perhaps he simply does not trust employees of the college to know what they can and cannot discuss or that they are not intelligent enough to understand college policy.

I understand it is Mr. Kyle's job to help ensure the privacy of student information as it pertains to academics. But I read nothing in the original request for information that asked for a student's medical records or grades.

Mr. Kyle has no authority to make such statements or threats. If he continues he might be the one under investigation.

Miguel M. Morales
former Ledger staffer (yeah, that one)
This prompted a response from a JCCC employee:

Mr. Morales,

Sir you are a bully and an ASS. It is none of your or my business what happened to this young lady. If the Overland Park Police and JCCC Public Safety are satisfied with the outcome then the rest of us should be satisfied.

Threatening members of the college with investigation is intolerable. I hope you did not learn that type of journalism at JCCC.
I replied:
When it comes to defending students, you're right, I am a bully and an ASS -- and I always will be.

The bottom line is that the young lady in question could have been in serious danger. Yet, no one wants to know how and why it happened or why we use a text messaging service that cannot be trusted to deliver texts during emergencies.

In reality, we should be thanking that young lady who went missing. She helped exposed the flaws in our system. But if we choose to ignore the situation and bury our heads in the sand, the next missing student we find will floating in a lake.

And let's not forget it was an administrator who used the veiled threat of an investigation against any employee who might choose to cooperate with the student newspaper in answering these questions.

After all this campus community has been through, it saddens me to realize there are people here who still don't get it ...

ut I appreciate those who do.
The news editor replied to the dean:
Dear Mr. Kyle,

I already have all of the information needed about the situation as given to me by the Overland Park Police Department. It is public record sir, and asking a professor about a former student is not, the last time I checked, a federal crime.

I was HOPING to speak with a professor who might have been worried that one of his/her former students was missing, not obtain personal records regarding anyone. Nowhere in the informal request did I ever ask for any personal information regarding the missing student or any other records that would be not be obtainable to me as a member of the college's press.

You likely didn't consider that the investigation was closed and the Overland Park Police Department was more than willing to discuss the matter with us. This is not hidden information, sir, it is public record that anyone with a fax machine and a phone can obtain.

For those of you that believe this was an unfair subject to address, your point is taken and I have noted your thoughts. However, since the incident, numerous students have inquired as WHAT THIS situation was, since it took so much time and resources from the college. It was determined that a follow up would be important, and this was just an avenue to find as many sources as possible to make sure the story comes out correctly.

Thank you.

March 10, 2008

CULTURE: Eat, Work, Pray

Today, someone from the college posted this message to the JCCClist, one of the college's electronic mail servers (not to be confused with the college's official communication listserv, Infolist).

The average person only prays 5 minutes a week. That is terrible. I have been praying and thinking about this very subject for the last month. I think we should have a prayer group, meeting, time, whatever you want to call it.

Of course, you don't have to come, but starting today at 11:30 in the Carlson Center Lobby I would love to start a prayer group. The Lord said, "When 2 or 3 are gathered in My Name I am there." Let's gather in His name. I will be there today at 11:30. I hope some of you feel convicted to show up. And, if you don't want to, you can always email me your prayer requests and we will pray for you. Please say if it is confidential or not, but Prayer is so powerful.

I don't really know how I feel about a prayer group forming on campus. We have student groups that focus on religion. We have classes that explore religious themes. But the person who posted this is an employee and, for her, JCCC is a workplace. I wouldn't want to walk into Best Buy and find employees around praying at the Wii display.

March 6, 2008

NEWS: Handwritten Hate

Graffiti Threat Causes Commotion
Increase in campus graffiti culminates with threat against a student

by Miguel. M. Morales

Graffiti threatening a student caused Johnson County Community College officials to repeatedly search the campus library Feb. 29.

Library sources said the college's Public Safety Officers initiated a search of the Billington Library at 7:30 am. Later Overland Park Police also joined the search. The college did not immediately disclose the reason for the searches that lasted through the day.

For at least one of the patrols Terry Calaway, JCCC president, and Dennis Day, vice president of Student Services, joined the search. The source said the president, vice president and officers combed the library as though they knew who they were trying to locate.

The college has not commented on why the searches took place. However, library sources said graffiti
that threatened a student appeared in the women's third floor restroom and served as the reason for the searches.

Graffiti Problems

In November 2005, racist and anti-gay graffiti covered the walls and stalls of a restroom in the Science building. According to a Department of Public Safety report, it was the second time in two weeks graffiti appeared in that restroom. A month later, similar hate graffiti appeared in the second floor men's room in the Carlsen Center.

In an interview with The Campus Ledger following 2005 incidents, Larry Dixon, manager of Public Safety said the college informs police when graffiti makes specific threats.

"We just would ask the help of students and faculty and staff who might be suspicious of somebody in there doing it to call us because we definitely want to put a stop to it,” he said.

However in the same article Jerry Baird, executive vice president of Academic Affairs, said graffiti at the college was not a problem.

“To think there’s just been a real outbreak of this stuff is probably not accurate,” Baird said. “In comparison to most institutions, frankly, we have very little. We’re very fortunate in that respect."

In fall 2007, the college's Diversity Committee asked about a crime alert sent to the campus via Infolist concerning graffiti. Wayne Brown, chief information officer, said the crime alert concerned 17 instances of graffiti that occurred during March 29, 2007 and June 22, 2007. He said that in three of those instances graffiti targeted African Americans.

The Ledger also reported four instances of graffiti between Oct. 5 and Oct. 29. One of those instances included smeared feces on a restroom wall on the first floor of the Carlsen Center.

Unfortunately the college's annual crime report does not list graffiti as a category. However, it does list hate crimes.

College procedures call for all graffiti to be reported to campus security. They will notify housekeeping services to remove the graffiti after officers have taken photos and gathered information for a report.

Morales works at the Information Desk in the Billington Library but did not serve as the source in the story. Special thanks to Joshua Seiden's article that appeared in The Ledger Dec . 7, 2005.