By Haley Bartlett, Editor-in-Chief
In my time of working with the Echo, I have rarely had trouble meeting with various people and getting interviews, but when I have, UTC’s housing staff has been with whom I have had the most difficulty.
As someone with several Residential Assistants (RAs) as friends, I have been shocked and confused by the persistent refusal to speak to the media regarding articles that are centered around housing.
The first time I faced this issue occurred when I tried to cover a story about overflow housing and students being forced to share rooms, including RAs who are supposed to have their own space as one of the perks.
Students who had been housed in overflow gladly talked to me, while RAs told me they weren’t allowed to speak to me and all Residential Directors (RDs) either never responded to my emails, or simply said they wouldn’t speak to the media. The story was unpublishable and I went about my day, not thinking much of it.
However, following a recent refusal to comment on a story about condoms in dorms, I was met with a message by someone who works in a residential hall, saying that even she wasn’t allowed to speak to us. So of course I began to investigate why, given my past issues surrounding the common theme of housing staff, housing representatives are not allowed to speak to the media, even if that media is the university paper.
Several RAs opened up and said that somewhere along the way, whether it was in training or otherwise, they were discouraged from talking to all forms of media, but also stated that no forms were signed or permitting it.
Some seemed worried about their position and weren’t sure if any repercussions would occur if they were caught talking to the media. In my past attempts to obtain sources for stories, they are the first to want to remain anonymous.
So why does housing have a steadfast “no media” rule? Why are students seemingly forced into silence and discouraged from talking to an organization that helps voice the issues on their school’s campus?
I don’t have the answer to these questions, but I do know everyone should be able to exercise their right to free speech and use the voice they were given.