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WRAS will not appeal GSU-GPB decision

As of today, WRAS 88.5 FM has not sent an appeal to the Board of Regents regarding the decision made by President Becker to partner with Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) on May 6.

“We are not filing,” said former WRAS general manager Ana Zimitravich this afternoon. She declined to provide further comment.

Society of Professional Journalists reporter and former Georgia State student David Schick proposed an “on the books” idea to WRAS staff via email. He wrote a mock-up appeal letter for WRAS, urging them to pursue an appeal to the Board of Regents in regards to the president’s decision.

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The Board of Regents (BOR) is the governing body of the University System of Georgia (USG).

According to BOR bylaws, student appeals to the president of their institution must be submitted within 20 days of the president’s original decision. It is not specified if these are 20 business or calendar days. Calendar days means WRAS would have until June 4, 2014 to file an appeal.

“The Board of Regents will likely interpret their own rules in a way that suits them,” Schick said.

According to section VIII of the Board of Regents bylaws, “any student or employee in the University System aggrieved by a final decision of the president of an institution may apply to the Board of Regents for a review of the decision.”

Section 4.7.1 of the bylaws states the chair shall consider:

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  • whether the record suggests that a miscarriage of justice might reasonably occur if the appeal is not reviewed by the Board
  • whether the record suggests that the institutional decision, if not reviewed by the Board, might reasonably have detrimental and system-wide significance,
  • or any other facts which, in the judgment of the Chair, merit consideration by the Board of Regents.

Zimitravich told Schick via text last week WRAS staff does not want to receive backlash from the University for filing an appeal.

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According to Student Press Law Center lawyer Adam Goldstein, it is within the student’s rights to file an appeal with BOR. The “backlash” on the part of the University would warrant legal repercussions on WRAS’s behalf.

“If the students on the staff feel as if it is unsafe to file an appeal, that would be a legal issue,” Goldstein said. “It’s evident that the type of leadership GSU has right now is harmful to students.”

WRAS sought to get on the BOR’s agenda for their May 20 meeting.

In an email correspondence with WRAS staff, Secretary to the Board Burns Newsome said “The agenda for Board meetings are prepared in advance of the Board meetings. As the agenda for the Board’s May meeting is complete, we unfortunately will not be able to honor your request.”

“The appeal is the proper method for being heard by the Board,” Schick said.

According to emails provided by Schick, WRAS alumni requested to get on the agenda for BOR’s August 2014 meeting.

The University postponed GPB programming on WRAS until June 29, in order to address concerns made by the station’s leadership. Covey said they still plan to honor their agreement with GPB in an earlier interview with The Signal.

2 Comments

  1. There is still a chance that they can file a challenge through the University Disciplinary System. There are two approaches on this…one is to challenge the student funding for the $750,000 transmitter because Walker and Covey failed to inform the Student Fee Board of the talks between GPR and GSU. That would get a lot of media airplay and student support (“we’ve been ripped off”) even from those that don’t necessarily like WRAS. The second is to challenge the fact that policy regarding the media was not first taken through the Committee on Student Communications, which is delegated to deal with all policy disputes relating to the Media. The CSC is composed of a mix of ten students, faculty and administrators and also includes two voting Administrators “11. Student Media Advisor and 12. Unit Supervisor for Media, Division of Student Affairs. The Dean of Students, a Staff member from the Department of University Relations and the Associate/Assistant Legal Advisor from the Office of Legal Affairs serve as standing ex-officio members as deemed necessary from the ranks of faculty, alumni or students.” Several of these have conflicts of interest having failed to tell their own committee about their conflict of interest and failing to fully inform the committee in making their vote on this important financial matter. Clearly their “sin of omission” was not trivial in its impact.

    For academic issues “the appeal must be submitted within 10 business days of the beginning of the academic term (fall, spring, summer) that follows the term in which the final grade was submitted by the instructor. ” There is no delineated limit for non-academic appeals, though I suspect that they would attempt to use this one as it is the only one that states a “starting clock”. Then there is a set of appeals usually with “business day deadlines”. Note that Vice-Chancellor Covey would have to step aside as he is not a “disinterested party”.

    Then the President would make a ruling, and the students could easily appeal (as Walker is not disinterested) to the Board of Regents.

  2. BTW From the wording of the Secretary of the BOR ‘s response it would seem that the students already made their request for an appeal within the 20 day time-frame but that the “Agenda is Full” and the Board expects that procedural ladders be climbed. IOW the Final Decision” by Becker is not his “Final Decision” (at least according to the Regents) until it goes through the process.

    This could drag out…and students should use all the tools at their disposal to fight it though the year. Make the whole process as distasteful to GPB and GSU so they ask “what were we thinking”? Ultimately there is still the Schaudenfreude tactic…make the FCC seriously question the “character” of GPB and GSU to be responsible licensees. There’s a lot of sleazy stuff in this deal that may make the Regents quite concerned about the license, and any future license (TV or Radio) if they don’t act.

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