Friday, September 17, 2010
Category: Opinion > Editorials
While nobody would claim that meetings for the UC Board of Regents are the lights-and-camera sort of action, a vote conducted on Wednesday will increase public access. The regents tossed an eight-paragraph policy that restricted many from recording meetings and replaced it with a single paragraph assuring greater openness. Attendees will be able to film or record as long as they are not being disruptive.
The new policy simply makes sense. While some may argue that this increased access creates new opportunities for disruption and protest, the fact that open filming and recordings have not been allowed in the past sends entirely the wrong message for a public institution. The regents have nothing to hide in these meetings and so this apparent fear of cameras is illogical.
It should have been this way - open to everyone - all along. Even more alarming is the possibility that the ridiculous regulations would still be in place if the regents had not been criticized for violating California's Bagley-Keene open meeting law after a filmmaker was not allowed into the July meeting with his taping equipment. Before Wednesday, cameras and recording devices were only allowed in the press section of the room.
Even then, this publication has encountered difficulties in comprehensively covering regent meetings in recent years. Our photographers have not been allowed to stand or move from one side of the room to get a different shot. If these were instituted restrictions for verified members of the press, it is hard to imagine how university officials will react to the general public's ability to record proceedings. We are therefore skeptical of how this new policy will be implemented - what will constitute a "disruption?"
We will believe the openness of camera use when we see it. Still, this a step in the right direction for a policy that should have been changed long ago. It's time for the regents to be completely on the record.
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