Recalcitrant Execs Shirk Accountability

Steve Sexton is The Daily Californian News Editor. Respond at [email protected].





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Student Body President Wally Adeyemo had something to hide last week when he threatened to have myself and a reporter arrested for trying to cover his meeting with campus leaders.

Maybe he didn't want us to know he was soliciting a new set of funds for his failed One Campus Initiative, stripped of its remaining ASUC money earlier this month. Or maybe he didn't think the student body had a right to know how university resources would be spent to "unite" the campus.

Regardless, his effort to expel us from a public room in Doe Library is consistent with a general trend in his administration of inaccessibility to the student body. And his attempt to bully the press is par for the course on campus.

We called his bluff and stayed throughout the Wednesday evening meeting so we could report on it in Friday's paper. At least Adeyemo had the foresight not to have police forcibly remove the student paper from the meeting with provosts and vice chancellors.

Adeyemo told our editor he had said to those attending the meeting that the press would not be allowed into the meeting, so participants could be more open in tossing around ideas for creating a closer-knit campus. But when interviewed the next day, the administrators said they were unaware Adeyemo had tried to bar the Daily Cal from sitting in on the discussion.

Some, like Assistant Vice Chancellor David Moers, expressed incredulity and espoused the virtues of the campus community being informed. Ironically, at the meeting, communication problems were deemed the largest obstacle to Adeyemo's fantasized vision for the university.

When a reporter tried to ask Adeyemo a few questions following up on the meeting, he threatened the reporter that if the story were printed, he would turn the writer's name into the Office of Student Conduct.

Adeyemo has retrenched this semester into a hole so deep that when he answers a cell phone call from Daily Cal reporters requesting a few minutes of his time, he replies: "Wally Adeyemo is not available."

Efforts to bully the press have also been made by other execs in ASUC. External Affairs Vice President Josh Fryday refused to reserve the Daily Cal a seat on one of his four buses to Sacramento for Cal Lobby Day because he didn't like the reporter assigned to cover the event.

Why do these officials, elected by the students, not think they should be accountable to the students? It's the students' money Adeyemo whittled away on lunches for the poor under the guise of his One Campus Initiative. I guess we were supposed to get a good feeling inside for feeding the poor. But I didn't. I got the feeling it was just another way for Eshleman insiders, namely his large staff of interns, to go home and feel satisfied with their selfless service.

The students, in last year's ASUC elections, voted to grant ASUC more of their money. They surely didn't expect their president to get a blank check from them to spend on self-gratifying activities. They surely didn't expect his united campus vision would include sponsorship of such divisive groups as BAMN.

Fortunately their senators came to the rescue and pulled the plug on a man who is, by his own admission, a lame duck.

But the effort to exclude and control the press on the part of Student Action execs is cause for alarm even if Adeyemo is on his way out.

Next week, when elections results are released and likely a slew of other Student Actioners assume the posts of Adeyemo, Fryday and others, will they also feel a sense of entitlement-that they are entitled to lead the campus and speak for the students while never talking to the students themselves?

It's not just ASUC that has tried to bully the student press, either. Earlier this month, I was chased as I left the office late one night by members of the Muslim Students Association who had gathered in the lobby of Eshleman Hall to complain about a story in the paper. A smaller contingent returned to the office the next day to air their concerns. One leader commented: "You know, we could easily have 200 people up here right now."

A similar threat was levied by the same group last night, but this time against a columnist.

Perhaps it was the David Horowitz incident that led all these people to believe the Daily Cal would just roll over in the face of controversy and challenge. The front-page apology and lengthy explanatory column by then Editor in Chief Daniel Hernandez following a protest in our office by dozens of angry students could have given the impression that the paper will kowtow to loud chants and irrational demands.

But that impression is both misguided and injurious to the ideals of free speech our dissenters decry when they shout up to our 6th floor office calling the Daily Cal racist and demanding apologies.

The Daily Cal will continue to listen to concerns from students and readers and work toward change where change is needed. We will continue to open our opinion page to opposing views and critics of our coverage.

We will continue to try to make the ASUC president accountable to the students whose money he spends. And in our coverage of Berkeley news, we will continue to be fair, balanced, and unafraid.

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