The issue of transparency is creating a lot of buzz in the country right now.
Like almost everything else relevant to today’s news cycle, that is because of President Donald Trump. With new and needed tax reform on the table, the commander-in-chief still refuses to release his own tax returns. There is also the fresher matter of the White House’s decision to keep visitor logs locked away, a break from practice under President Barack Obama’s administration. With such important matters being kept secret, there are those wondering if President Trump has something to hide. At the very least, people want to know why information that should and always has been public is being kept under wraps.
As these acts of presidential nondisclosure are debated and analyzed on a national level, the issue of transparency is one that hits here at home, too.
As we at The Setonian have discovered time and time again, Seton Hall University is not always forthcoming. Let us preface that statement by noting that our reporters do hundreds of interviews with administrators each year. Most interviews go well and most sources are accommodating in our search for information. Even those who aren’t are courteous and pleasant – for the most part.
Yet, every now and then, we run into a story where administrators decline comment, are terribly evasive or – and this is where they look the worst – ignore us. Everyone gets all hush-hush. But this silence doesn’t just impact our reporting; it affects the entire SHU community when administrators keep us in the dark. Examples of such stories have included those pertaining to the medical school negotiations, the fiasco that was planning this year’s commencement ceremony and President A. Gabriel Esteban’s decision to leave for DePaul – the SHU community didn’t even find out until he was accepting his new job on a stage in Chicago! The latest example stems from The Setonian’s investigation into the MASCL program, which saw one administrator blow us off and another provide a single-sentence answer before avoiding further questions on a matter that will have a lasting impact on SHU’s educational enterprise.
Every department at Seton Hall, ranging from GDS to Athletics and beyond, withholds information. Now, we understand that there are some details that can’t be released for legal reasons, but then there are those that folks just don’t want made public. But the truth usually comes out anyway. When it does, and people find out information has been kept from them, they tend to be upset.
More transparency avoids that.
As a community, it is difficult to learn without the truth, both good and bad. Furthermore, it is impossible to maintain trust when facts are withheld. That applies to individuals – like the president of the United States or Seton Hall administrators – and overall institutions – like the federal government or the University we call home.
The Voice is intended to best represent the collective opinion of The Setonian’s Editorial Board. It is written by The Setonian’s Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor.