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DECEMBER 3, 2012 | VOLUME 26 NO. 8 | Visit online at www.collegiannews.com | THE OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE STUDENTS SINCE 1987

Men outlast Bureaucratic lockdown Central Ga. Tech University System refuses to provide records By David Schick Collegian Staff

By Rachel Millin & Alan Simpson Collegian Staff After leading by as many as 25 points in the second half, GPC held off Central Georgia Technical College 83-75 in its conference opener in Decatur Nov. 20. The Jaguars held a comfortable 14 point lead at the half and opened the second half on a 15-4 run to stretch the lead to 50-25. A series of fouls and turnovers allowed Central Georgia Tech to close the gap to 68-60, but GPC held on in the end. After losses to Southern Tech and ABI Prep, the Jaguars have fallen to 4-5 overall, but all of the losses have been non-conference. The men play the rest of their games this semester on the road.

The University System of Georgia and GPC are still withholding records in response to the Collegian’s Open Records Act requests. “Notwithstanding our several conversations and emails, your staff still continues to refuse to release any documents to my client. This is most distressing, to say the least,” wrote Daniel Levitas, the Collegian’s pro-bono legal representation, in a Nov. 27 email to Burns Newsome, USG vice chancellor for legal affairs. “Furthermore, contrary to our mutual understanding reached by phone, Ms. Reddick also refuses to communicate with Mr. Schick or provide him with any materials responsive to his ORA request.” On Oct. 24, the USG and the Collegian came to a compromise to lower the cost associated with producing the requested records, which ended a four-month open records act dispute. Newsome wrote in the Oct. 24 letter that the Collegian could “pick up the requested documents in the Board’s offices at [its] earliest convenience.” However, over the past month, each time the Collegian has attempted to collect on the documents the USG and GPC have refused to supply them. Several times a week, the Collegian made phone and email inquiries about the documents and was provided with reasons why they couldn’t comply. “I am in the process of printing out the documents as they are still to be reviewed, which is taking place as I am printing,” wrote Brenda Trezevant, USG assistant for media and publications, on Nov. 7. The Collegian spoke with John Millsaps, USG associate vice chancellor for media and publications, on Nov. 12 about the delay. Millsaps explained that the request was very extensive and auditors had to review every single document for proprietary information to determine if any of it was “part of an open investigation.” Levitas wrote an email to the USG on Nov. 14 that he had thought the issue with the Collegian’s Open Records Act request was resolved. In regards to the records that are “part of an open investigation,” Levitas wrote, “If this is indeed the case, please contact me promptly with a status report on when you will issue those records as promised … Additionally, please consider this as a formal request that you immediately release to [the Collegian] on a rolling basis all records you have reviewed to date.” Levitas also requested for the USG to specifically identify

the pending investigations, which are causing the delay. “Frankly, from my vantage point it seems like pertinent, newsworthy information is being deliberately withheld under pretext and I respectfully request that you please offer a cogent explanation or release the records as promised with all deliberate speed,” wrote Levitas.

Open Records Timeline July 16

Open Records Act request submitted to GPC. Cost to fulfill: $927

July 18

Open Records Act request submitted to USG. Cost to fulfill: $2,963

Aug. 23

Student Press Law Center writes letter to USG requesting reduction of “excessive charges.”

Sept. 12

USG reduces ORA cost to $1,822.

Oct. 10

Collegian retains counsel, lawyer sends letter requesting further fee reduction.

Oct. 24

USG reduces ORA cost to $291.

Nov. 7

Collegian still without records, USG reports records are being reviewed for “proprietary information.”

Nov. 12

USG still withholding records on the grounds that documents are still being reviewed for any documents that might be “part of an open investigation.”

Nov. 14

Collegian lawyer writes email to USG to formally request that documents be released on a rolling basis.

Nov. 19

USG fails to provide documents to Collegian because all documents were “on the assistant’s computer” who was out for an early vacation, but would return the following Monday.

Nov. 26

The Collegian revisits USG office, assistant not instructed to release any documents.

Nov. 27

Collegian lawyer writes another email to USG stating that it is “most distressing” that the documents from both the USG and GPC have not been released.

State legislator claims Tricoli was scapegoat By David Schick Collegian Staff State Rep. Karla Drenner thinks that more blame for GPC’s budget deficit should be placed with the University System of Georgia than with former President Anthony Tricoli. Drenner recently stated in a CrossRoadsNews article that she believed Tricoli wasn’t at fault and that he was just a scapegoat for the USG. “How can a president with a long series of successes be abruptly dismissed before any investigation?” wrote Drenner in response to follow up questions the Collegian submitted via email. In the response, Drenner analyzes and questions the USG’s Special Audit of GPC’s budget deficit. “I also started to wonder about the USG involvement and learned that they meet annually with the college’s leadership teams to review the college’s budget actions of the precious year and discuss their future budget proposal,” wrote Drenner. “If they were meeting annually, how could the Chancellors office not know?” Drenner stated that if they didn’t know, they should have known. Drenner stated that the changes to USG

budget oversight procedures, which were adopted on June 5 according to an email by Chancellor Hank Huckaby, are an indication of the USG’s culpability. “Clearly, the financial oversight processes and procedures which were in place at the System Office were inadequate,” wrote Drenner. “While ultimately it is the college president’s responsibility to manage the organization, again I would offer with the adoption of these changes does it not communicate the recognition of the lack of appropriate processes and procedures by the University System that added to this problem?” According to USG’s Special Audit, “email discussions among GPC’s financial staff starting in Jan 2012 that reference the declines in the auxiliary fund balances” were not shared outside GPC’s Office of Financial and Administrative Affairs until “several months afterwards.” Drenner noted that the Tricoli was specifically excluded from these communications. “I am particularly concerned that the USG’s special audit report failed to communicate that ‘system level’ leaders had been involved in these e-mail discussions which excluded the president,” wrote Drenner. In her last point, Drenner makes reference to the special audit’s claim that all of GPC’s budget presentations were

“incomplete and inaccurate.” Drenner wrote, “Again, I ask myself, if the president was receiving ‘incomplete’ and ‘inaccurate’ budget presentations from the second person in authority at the college and the top financial administrator with 40 years of experience, the CBO, why was the president removed? Only too recently the Board at the University of Virginia removed the President of the UVA. The president after the investigation was restored to her leadership position. Consider the recent events at Emory when upper level administrators purposefully misled the public for years regarding its successes. An investigation was done, and when it concluded that the Emory’s president did not know, the president was retained, and the individuals responsible not.” Drenner concluded that she understood how difficult it could be to reverse the decision of removing Tricoli, but the evidence from the special audit “suggests thoughtful reconsideration.” The Collegian emailed Chancellor Huckaby requesting a response to Drenner’s statements. As of press time, there has been no response. See State Rep. Karla Drenner’s full response here: http:// www.collegiannews.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/ Representative_Drenners_response.pdf


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DECEMBER 3, 2012

Our Voice

GPC: Where no one can hear you scream By Alan Simpson Collegian Staff In my one and only semester working for the Collegian, I have found myself in the midst of more battles than I care to count. At times it has felt like the Collegian against the world, and I found it disheartening to have to constantly fight just to produce a student newspaper. At times it felt like we had been abandoned. In retrospect, I realize this must be the way many GPC students feel these days. A common thread in the cause of most of the problems that have led to the Collegian’s battles is the budget crisis that has loomed over all GPC operations for the last six months. Last I checked, there were zero students implicated in causing the budget shortfall. And I think it is safe to say this institution would cease to exist without its students. Yet the students keep being punished despite footing the bill for this entire operation. It is entirely fair to think of students as customers. As much as tuition has increased in recent years, we are consumers of a very expensive product. This semester, some of that product was taken away from us. Imagine going into a Wal-Mart and being required to pay upfront, only to find half the things you needed were no longer on the shelves. The place would be bankrupt within months. And while a college is not immune to market forces, administrators know for you to stop purchasing their product requires a major life change for you. On top of that, even with GPC’s high proportion of nontraditional students, there’s a pervasive attitude that the students are children in need of the direction of adults. So shouldn’t there be some kind of organization that represents the interests of the students in the face of this attitude and the administration’s ability to spend its customers’ money any way it wants? If you’re reading this, you’re probably well aware that such an organization exists – or is alleged to, anyway. The Student Government Association definitely exists. Whether it exists to actually serve the interests of the students is debatable. Several sources have told me that as soon as new SGA officers take office, they are immediately given a sermon about representing the institution and admonished not to say anything that would reflect poorly on GPC. The fire and brimstone in these speeches must rival a Kirk Cameron TV special, because most SGA officers are sufficiently scared into consulting a faculty adviser before giving any official response or taking any action. Isn’t this in direct conflict with the purpose of the SGA? If an SGA officer doesn’t know off hand what to say or do, shouldn’t they be consulting students,

not faculty? It’s not entirely their fault. They’re scared. In fact, this whole place reeks of fear. The administration holds the ultimate trump card in these times, and everyone knows it. Step out of line, and you risk having your budget cut. There is one expense that appears to be quite immune to budget cuts: interim President Rob Watts’ salary. In May, right around the time nearly 300 GPC employees learned that their jobs and financial security had been taken from them due to mismanagement on the part of people well above their pay grade, Hank Huckaby, chancellor of the University System of Georgia, suggested to the Board of Regents that Watts receive a $27,000 raise. The proposed salary bump would raise Watts’ income to a cool quarter of a million dollars a year. Several things strike me as very odd about this. First, the USG was able to find an additional $27,000 a year for someone already making six figures but couldn’t hold on to just one more job at our college. Second, Watts was already making more than outgoing president Anthony Tricoli before the raise. Third, the school Watts took over was in the middle of slashing every budget, right down to commencement for its graduates. On second thought, “odd” was the wrong word. This strikes me as irresponsible, uncaring and arrogant. I didn’t have income reports in front of me, so I emailed Watts directly to ask if he did in fact receive such a raise. As of press time, I hadn’t heard back. All semester long, GPC students and faculty have been asking why their needs haven’t been met. Don’t let the doubletalk and passing the buck fool you. The answer is simple: too many people in any position to help you simply don’t care, or are scared. What can you do about it? You are the customers. You can boycott the store. But we all know that’s not practical. You came (or went back) to school for a good reason. You can write to administrators and regents and USG suits, but you might as well send letters to Santa. Or you can take real action. You can organize. You can demand the “S” in SGA regain its meaning. You can demand truly open elections for SGA office that all students know about. You can tell the administration that it is unacceptable for faculty to be running SGA behind the scenes and the school to reallocate budgets for student fees without student approval. You can tell them you’re not going to be quelled until you get what you’ve paid for. We’re out of bread, and the Bastille is dying to be stormed. Otherwise, it won’t matter if you’re at Clarkston, Dunwoody, Decatur, Alpharetta, Newton or an uninhabited Pacific island. Your screams for change will never be heard.

Dear readers, I blinked and my time at GPC has finally come to an end. It is hard for me to think about where the time has gone, the person I was when I first started school, or everything that has come since making the decision to invest in my education and myself. I will look back fondly at my time here with the Collegian. I never thought that an extracurricular activity at a community college could lead to me discovering my passion for a career in journalism. If I can leave you all with some parting advice: Seek out an experience. This spring you all will be in good hands with the future Editor in Chief, Ashley Oglesby. I invite you to come share your voice and join your student newspaper. Many editorial positions will be open next semester. Best of luck in all your future endeavors,

David Schick

Editor in Chief

Illustration by Daylan Arean El Naamani

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF David Schick EXECUTIVE EDITOR Breanna Wimby ASSOCIATE EDITOR Alan Simpson ALPHARETTA CAMPUS Managing editor: Veronica Gruta CLARKSTON CAMPUS Managing editor: Ashley Oglesby Photo editor: James Pennie DECATUR CAMPUS Managing editor: Kierra Johnson News editor: Kaila Thompson DUNWOODY CAMPUS Managing editor: Tammy Woolcock News editor: Leslie Mele NEWTON CAMPUS Photo editor: Jahret Rainey COLLEGEWIDE Sports Editor: Rachel Millin

The Collegian is the student newspaper of Georgia Perimeter College, and is a designated public forum for students, faculty and staff to share their opinions. Comments and views expressed herein are those of the individual writers, and not those of the college or the Collegian as a whole. We strongly encourage students to submit articles and artwork for publication. Single copies are free. More than three copies per person are $.50 each. Editors reserve the right to edit for grammar, space, appropriateness and length. Not all submissions will be published. To speak with a staff member, please call 678-8913382 or e-mail us at gpc.collegian@gmail. com.

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DECEMBER 3, 2012

COLLEGIANNEWS.COM

Handicap access denied

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Shopping after Black Friday By Ashley Small Collegian Contributor

Anthony Edwards demonstrates the gym door not opening despite the handicap button being pressed. Perry Standridge/Collegian Contributor By Breanna Wimby Collegian Staff When you push the button to operate the power assisted handicapped doors and nothing happens, this can be quite an inconvenience. Now imagine being handicapped and relying on these doors to work. “We count on it to be working,” said Bishara Omar, a handicapped student, when interviewed about the doors, “It’s one of those small issues, but yet, it affects people. It affects us. It may be small to

somebody but it’s a big issue to us people who really need it.” Anthony Edwards, coordinator and supervisor of the Health, Wellness and Recreation Department at Clarkston is used to the doors, especially the ones around the gym, not working. Edwards also uses a wheelchair to get around. When asked about the issue of the doors either working sometimes or not at all, Edwards responded that the gym doors in the back of the locker rooms do not work at all, “And when you do gain entrance to it, the other doors are so

heavy that if you were in a manual chair it would be almost difficult if you were a quadriplegic to pull those doors open and gain entrance if you didn’t have a helper.” Edwards went on to say that the doors on the top floor are more accessible, but only the one on the side of the parking lot, as the door by the tennis court has no ramp or accessibility button. Despite the fact that there is an accessibility door on the parking lot side the, door will only open from the inside, not the outside. During the interview Edwards was sure that the door would not work if he used

it right then and demonstrated by going outside and pushing the button only for the door not to open. “It’s just that consistent. I can exit, but I can’t gain entry.” Edwards thinks this is an important issue and something that needs serious consideration, “especially when you’re talking about making sure that facilities are accessible to new students and those students that are already here at GPC and have some form of disability and need to be able to gain access to their classes and to the library and other facilities,” said Edwards.

Many engaged in the grueling festivities of early bird shopping, long check out lines, limited stock and chaotic crowds, which Black Friday had to offer. This year’s impatient wait for holiday sales after Black Friday meant even bigger savings for the strategic consumer. Online markets like Amazon.com and major retailers such as BestBuy and Wal-Mart matched the price of other competitors. Special offers are limited and online purchases are subject to specific time frames. Shardai Wilson, GPC student, said, “I bought my Samsung Tablet II on amazon for under three hundred.” Cyber week also jump started Nov. 26, where online deals flourished. “My uncle waits a day in line in advance to shop for electronics, because he doesn’t know how to shop online,” said Jasmine Hurst, GPC student. This year’s online and in store competitive prices will stirred a dramatic change of pace for the market and those simply not interested in leaving the comfort of home. Others look to make extra cash for holiday spending may find selling electronics and old cell phones on websites like usell. com. For those seeking a better deal for a later steal, you’ll find patience not only to be a true virtue, but a penny saver’s dream.

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December 3 Issue  

The Official Voice of Georgia Perimeter College Students since 1987