Pursuit of justice leads journalists

Endeavor to speak on behalf of underpaid staff met with strong resistance from university officials.

I am as proud of our page one story on the salaries afforded members of the university’s staff as anything that we have done all year.The efforts of reporter Lindi Duesenberg epitomize the role that journalism and good hard working journalists canand must”play in a properly functioning democratic society.But perhaps what is as much of a story as the one Duesenberg wrote about the frustrations of staff members over their comparatively low wages and high workloads, is the ways in which university officials went about trying to ensure that our report never saw the light of day.Both stories highlight the fact that there are serious problems with the way this university”more often than not a bastion of freedom and personalization”sometimes operates that need to be corrected.There is no doubt that the story is a much-needed one.While many staff members feared that their jobs would be on the line if they should speak to us on the record, they quietly applauded our efforts and thanked us for taking up their cause.Staff members”ranging from departmental secretaries to workers in the business, financial aid and registrar’s offices”have seen no substantial increase in their wage levels in the past five years.Meanwhile, the university has experienced a tremendous growth in the student population and asked the staff members in place to simply take on more duties and responsibilities to compensate for that growth.There is little wonder, then, that students have been consistently dissatisfied with student services during the past several years.But this issue extends well beyond mere student satisfaction.The cost of living in Orange County is inordinately high, and the members of this university’s staff deserve a wage that will allow them to live comfortably here. The university should give it to them with no questions asked.Because the university does not do so, according to many of the current staff members employed by the university, The Panther last week began asking questions of the university.The university didn’t like that much, and they university made sure that we knew it. They attempted to bully us, they threatened us, and they trivialized our mere existence.Director of News Services Ruth Wardwell went so far as to say that journalism was nothing more than entertainment, and that all journalists ever want to do is create controversy when no controversy exists.”With all due respect to your desire to make your mark on journalism, and in spite of the student-centeredness of this institution,” Wardwell wrote to our reporter Duesenberg last week, “the greater good of Chapman University is not being served through this endeavor.”Warwell couldn’t be more wrong.There is no greater good that could be done here, at this time in the school’s history when it continues to amass unparalleled riches.Just ask the staff members whose voices are being heard”perhaps, in the case of many of them, for the very first time.Over 140 years ago, Chapman was founded by a protestant denomination that today is one of the most progressive that you will find in America. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) along with its partner denomination the United Church of Christ, are denominations that pride themselves on their continued pursuit of justice.The reaction on the part of the university officials last week to our pursuits and endeavors, proved to me one more time how much some people on campus have absolutely no idea”and will never have any idea”what it is that this university is all about.

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