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Opinion: Open means open

How would you feel if you suddenly had to get 10 more convocation hours before you could graduate? What if your major was moved to a different college? What if curriculum got completely overhauled?

What if all this was discussed and decided on without you knowing?

It sounds far-fetched, but in the last three weeks, two of Belmont’s main governing bodies, which speak for students and faculty, tried to restrict the Vision’s access to information.

That should matter to you, because when we are denied access, so are you, the students and faculty at this university.

Just this week, the vice president of the faculty senate asked a reporter to leave an open meeting, which is a violation of the organization’s bylaws.

Three weeks ago, the vice president of the Student Government Association attempted to make a statement said at an open meeting off the record.

When governing bodies attempt to restrict information from the media, it severely hurts the people the body is trying to serve, which in Belmont’s case is more than 8,000 students, faculty and staff.

Both organizations said they meant no ill will, but these attempts to shut out student reporters set a dangerous precedent. Once that door closes, will it ever open?

“Democracy dies in darkness” is more than a platitude or a label on a cheap sticker — it’s a reminder that without access to information freedom loses its meaning, the public is less informed and the powerful aren’t held accountable.

Would we allow Congress to operate in the dark, removing reporters and the media at will?

If universities are training grounds for the real world, seeing university leaders stoop beneath the standards we try to hold our government to should be a concern to everyone, not just the reporters.

Belmont should never become a place that supports media suppression, whether it’s done by students, faculty, or the administration.

If the goal is to be a leading institution of learning, shouldn’t we be setting the example for the free flow of information?

Maybe then the folks in charge would learn something.

This article written by Joe Bendekovic and Justin Wagner.

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