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The Communicator NEWS & POLITICS

Updated Campus Posting Policy Sparks Controversy

Written by: Mikaela ConleyOctober 26, 2016

Early last week a batch of fliers criticizing IPFW’s newly instated posting policy were anonymously hung around campus.

The fliers, signed anonymously by concerned faculty members, stated: “The current posting policy of IPFW prohibits departments and student organizations from posting information about upcoming classes and events. We think this is wrong. Besides, wouldn’t you rather see flyers than walls that are torn apart?”

The fliers, which did not cohere to the policy set in place, were reportedly torn down within the hour. A new flier was anonymously posted in its place:

“Our flyers were just torn down. Evidently, the administration does not want to promote COAS classes and events promoted by student organizations. Flyers on campus represent a vibrant cultural and intellectual community. It is also an effective way to keep student informed. Signed- concerned faculty members.”

Although the fliers were signed anonymously, faculty members were willing to speak out about the issue.

Steve Carr, interim chair of the Department of Communication, said he is deeply concerned with the new policy. The policy calls for postings to be made in a more organized manner of digital signage. While he is not opposed to digital signage, and even said he is weighing the cost of one for the Communication Department, he thinks they should be used to work in conjunction with paper fliers.

“The policy also places greater emphasis on campus beautification than it does on free speech,” Carr said. “Contrary to what some in administration might think, universities occasionally find themselves in the business of hosting the free exchange of ideas. Sometimes the price we pay for that robust exchange is that the exchange may not look entirely orderly, or the presentation of those ideas may offend someone’s sensibility.”

Ben Gates, director of IPFW Campus Ministry and a history professor, said he was actually on the committee for the posting policy and that it was very obvious that the majority of the committee was set on no longer allowing fliers to be posted on glass doors.

Gates said he is currently posting about 50-75 fewer fliers than he did last academic year and the attendance at Campus Ministry events has dropped.

“While I can’t prove there is a direct connection between fewer posting locations and our attendance, I suspect this is the correlation,” Gates said.

Kasey Price, assistant vice chancellor for student life and leadership, said the purpose of the policy has not changed since it was last revised in 2009, but rather the media in which people can post have changed.

The major changes made to the policy include eliminating the posting of fliers on glass surfaces.

“Modern construction design utilizes a considerable about of indoor glass. The previous policy was in place when indoor glass on campus was considerably less. Cleaning the glass and monitoring over 100 spaces available for posting was very time consuming, wasteful and expensive,” Price said.

The new policy also banned the posting of regular class meetings, course offerings and office hours, although this was suspended for at least one academic year to allow for a transition to other available posting locations on campus.

Other media such as table tents, the Toilet Times, digital postings, spirit rocks, the True Blue newsletter and a mobile app with access to the renovated campus calendar were added to replace the option of mass flier postings.

Price said there are over 100 locations for events to be advertised on campus both digitally and in paper.

“We are continually creating space for information-sharing on campus,” she said.

According to message tracking from the 2015-2016 school year, Price said, “On average over 40 percent of degree-seeking students open the True Blue email messages. Through click rates of survey responses and other links within each individual True Blue newsletter, we have very good reason to believe students are reading the messages.”

Meanwhile, multiple posting locations are currently being relocated to “higher-traffic areas,” according to Price.

Price said the old tack strips in stairwells did not provide sufficient space for the amount of materials posted and led to fliers ending up on the floors. Now, the Office of Student Life and Leadership is trying to offer more posting locations in high-traffic areas on the first floor of buildings near entryways to allow them to reduce the number of these locations and therefore cave printing costs and time used to take down expired information.

Organizations or departments wanting to post fliers need to write the contact information and date range of posting, which cannot exceed two weeks, on the actual flier. Fliers no longer need reviewed, signed and dated by the the Office of Student Life and Leadership.

Consequences for failing to follow the implemented policy have also been added.

According to the policy, the first offense will result in a warning and reminder of the policy, the second offense will result in being prohibited from posting for one month, and the third offense will result in being prohibited from posting for one academic semester.

The policy will be reviewed annually to re-evaluate its efficiency on campus, Price said.

“It is our hope to increase communication to all students through various forms of media. These spaces are available to departments, campus groups and student organizations,” Price said.

“The premise of the policy is deeply flawed: That control over postings should be concentrated in the hands of one or two administrators, when it should fall within the purview of existing structures of shared governance at IPFW,” Carr said.

He said he believes the posting policy should be in the hands of a faculty senate rather than Student Affairs so faculty have a say in the day-to-day operations of the university.

“I think it is quite sad that students and staff must belong to a university that places greater emphasis on beautification than it does on free speech,” Carr said.

 CORRECTION: In the print version of this article it was incorrectly stated that departments and organizations must have fliers reviewed, signed and dated by the Office of Student Life and Leadership. This is no longer the case. The updated policy states that organizations or departments wanting to post fliers need to write the contact information and date range of posting, which cannot exceed two weeks, on the actual flier.