On campus there are a variety of organizations intended to serve the student body. One of those organizations is The Lariat. Another one is the student government.
Student government is made up of several of moving parts, just like the Lariat. There is a hierarchy. There are workflows. There are policies and people to enforce those policies. Everyone has a job to do.
The jobs of the Lariat and the student government overlap like a Venn Diagram. This means members of the Lariat staff interact frequently with members of student government.
The Lariat reports news and relays information to the student body. The student government makes the news. The student body benefits. The very mission of student government is “to represent the student body, with respect to our Christian commitment and the ideals of Baylor University, through shared governance, as we seek to enrich the quality of student life,” according to the student government’s website.
For example, as Student Senate writes and passes bills, a Lariat member is ideally working on a story to let the student body know about the bill and whether it was passed. Oftentimes, a member of student government suggests stories for the Lariat to cover. Arlington senior Dominic Edwards, student body president, has submitted columns to the Lariat for publication.
This symbiotic-type relationship is crucial to the student body.
When there is a breakdown in this relationship, not only are both organizations affected, but the student body suffers.
How do breakdowns occur? There are several ways. If the Lariat only covers “bad” student government news, then why would the student government want to speak with us again? If the Lariat only ever contacts the same members for every single story — regardless of who is the best source to talk to — then we have erred. If either of these situations happens, it means the Lariat is not reporting fairly.
On the other hand, the student government could cause a breakdown in communication by refusing to speak with the Lariat. If this happens, there will be no news coverage for the organization. Many members of the Baylor community would be left in the dark.
The Senate has a media policy, passed unanimously Jan. 29, that requires senators to get permission to contact the media from Port Barre, La., sophomore Lindsey Bacque, the public relations chair. Katy junior Lawren Kinghorn, internal vice president, serves as the final say on whether senators can contact the media. If senators initiate contact with the media, they could face reprimands and be brought before the Senate Executive Council.
It’s the student government’s right to issue and enforce such a policy. The implementation of the policy, however, could be very biased, especially if the Student Senate does not trust the Lariat to write fairly. The Senate could also not trust particular senators to speak with The Lariat. In each of these cases, Bacque and Kinghorn could simply deny permission for the senators to talk to the media. Then, if senators fear talking to the media because of potential punishments for violating this policy, the free flow of information comes to a halt. News stops either way.
Avoiding the media hurts the students, who would not receive the most well-rounded story about the senate’s actions. Student government is made up of students elected to their positions. The student body should be kept up-to-date on the people it elected.
If the student government’s goal is transparency, then talking with the media is one of the best ways to ensure that happens.
Whether the Lariat or the student government is to blame, these obstructions block the free flow of information like an unwanted dam.
The Lariat and student government are learning laboratories for students to gain experience in their future interests. There will be mistakes. Sometimes there will be bad blood. But remembering that we — the Lariat and the student government — are meant to serve the student body keeps both organizations accountable.
For the interest of the student body – and the free flow of information – this means each organization has to understand the purpose and goals of the other. We also cover more positive news stories as well – take the Prosper Waco initiative for example. When members of student government approach us, they should be able to trust that we will treat them and the information they provide us with respect.
With a trusting relationship, the dam preventing information from reaching the students will crack and break, creating a more transparent student government and more substantial news stories for the Lariat.
It makes both our organizations more effective and gives us both legitimacy in the minds of the Baylor community.