Unqualified

When FAU fired the UP adviser on three days’ notice, administrators told us, “We are not leaving you with nothing.”

Well, it’s now been more than a month, but the UP has next to nothing.

FAU’s student media director now serves as our official interim adviser; however, investigation has revealed that she’s inflated her journalism background and downplayed her criminal background.

Since then, this story has been covered everywhere from the Palm Beach Post to the Huffington Post.

But it’s not because the outside world cares about a random student newspaper at a fourth-tier school.

This story has caught the attention of media outlets across the country because of how poorly FAU has handled the situation. Administrators have lied to the UP staff, refused to talk about journalism in the presence of a recorder, and threatened me with unconstitutional demands.

They claim they want to “move student media forward,” but in the process, they seem to have taken a giant step backward.

For those of you who may not have followed the news coverage, this timeline documents the curious events of the UP‘s first month in operation without a qualified adviser.

May 18: Student Media Director Marti Harvey fires Michael Koretzky, the UP‘s adviser of 12 years. According to Koretzky, Harvey claimed that Senior VP of Student Affairs Charles Brown insisted that Koretzky get only three days’ notice and that Brown would not say why.

May 21: Koretzky’s last official day.
May 21, 2 p.m.: In lieu of the UP‘s usual staff meeting, Harvey and her boss, Associate Dean of Students Terry Mena, field questions about and attempt to explain how Koretzky’s firing was part of FAU’s efforts to “move student media forward.” More than 60 current and former UP staff members as well as Student Government officials, among others, show up for the two-hour meeting. Harvey’s first words? “I don’t know how to express my thanks to [Koretzky] for doing what he’s done here at FAU with the UP.” Her first words when he offers to stay on as a volunteer adviser till his replacement is found? “I don’t know.”

May 25: I start my blog, Owl Management, to bring transparency to administration.
May 25: Harvey e-mails me, wanting to meet to discuss FAU’s new assistant student media director position. She says I cannot record the conversation because it’s about a personnel matter. Attorney Frank LoMonte, director of the Student Press Law Center, calls her excuse “bogus.”

May 27: I tell Harvey that I couldn’t find any bylines from the “almost four years” that she claims she worked for the Dallas Morning News. She shuts my journalistic inquiry down by telling me to go through their HR department to confirm her time there.

May 28: Although FAU wouldn’t let him be a volunteer adviser, Harvey tells the Sun Sentinel that Koretzky may return to the UP newsroom as a volunteer adviser as long as I file paperwork for each meeting he speaks at.

May 29: The Sun Sentinel runs a story on the front page of their local section.

May 31: I declare on Owl Management that I’m not going to file anymore paperwork for Koretzky to visit the UP as a guest speaker. For one, I’d learned that none of my predecessors were required to file such paperwork despite hosting plenty of guest speakers over the years. For two, I felt that FAU was hiding behind paperwork rules.

June 1: The Huffington Post weighs in on the Sun Sentinel‘s May 29 story.

June 2: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch weighs in on the Sun Sentinel‘s May 29 story.

June 3: Harvey tells me, on behalf of FAU lawyer Audra Lazarus, that I “may not meet with [Koretzky] off campus or on campus for the purpose of advising.” Harvey explains that FAU policy states that advisers must be employees and reminds me that I would be breaking policy if I continued to seek advice from the seasoned journalist.

June 4: I call Lazarus to make sure I understood her unconstitutional demand correctly. She refuses to comment and then some: “We’re not going to have any comments. I’m not going to have any comment on anything related to this issue. … Like I said, we won’t be commenting, nor does my office comment.”
June 4: The Student Press Law Center posts a news flash.
June 4: WLRN Miami Herald News runs a story.
June 4: FAU posts the position for an assistant student media director. Although the UP‘s part-time adviser made $25,000/year, this administrator will work twice as many hours for only $38,000 to $43,000/year.

June 7: Conservative organization Young Americans for Freedom runs a press release that calls FAU lawyer Audra Lazarus a “university henchman.”

June 8: The editorial board of the country’s largest student newspaper, the University of Florida’s Alligator, weighs in. While a student at UF, Koretzky served as editor-in-chief of the Alligator and was its first EIC to serve two consecutive terms.
June 8: The national president of the Society of Professional Journalists sends a letter to FAU President Mary Jane Saunders. It’s her second day on the job.

June 9: I try again to speak to Harvey about her time at the Dallas Morning News. But instead of having a conversation about journalism with the head of one of the student media outlets she oversees, the student media director tells me I’d have to go through Media Relations and schedule a formal interview.

June 10: Senior VP of Student Affairs Charles Brown responds to the Society of Professional Journalists’ June 8 letter, mentioning a UP internship. It’s the first anyone at the UP has heard of the internship.

June 11: I interview Harvey. She answers all of my questions about her journalism and student media experience but says her criminal background “has no bearing on [her] job.”
June 11: I blog about Harvey’s criminal record. At the age of 36, she was arrested for possession of more than 100 joints’ worth of marijuana after telling the cops she had only “two joints” in her house, according to the police report. Narcotics officers also found “triple beam scales” and “paraphernalia” in her home, the report said.

June 14: The Palm Beach Post runs a story on the front page of their local section.
June 14: Although more than 1,500 miles away, the University of Vermont’s student media adviser weighs in: “This is the weirdest, saddest, most public Student Press vs. University saga I’ve seen in my advising career,” he says.

June 15, 5:02 p.m.: Charles Brown’s assistant calls me to tell me he needs to see me first thing the next morning. “I just wanted to talk to you about all of this that’s been going on,” Brown himself claims by phone.

June 16: I meet with Brown, who essentially apologizes without apologizing: “I just want to clarify this whole thing about advisers, you know, Michael being a volunteer adviser. I don’t mind him being a volunteer adviser. He can be a volunteer adviser, no problem. … I have no problem with that, and I need to clarify that.” When I attempt to ask a few related questions, he gives me at least 10 variations on “no comment,” forcing me to conclude that Student Affairs won’t discuss student affairs with students.
June 16: I blog for the last time about Harvey’s Dallas Morning News experience. After finally getting the truth out of her and getting ahold of their HR department, I report that Harvey was essentially no more than an intern there.

June 17, 9:14 a.m.: Brown’s assistant e-mails me and then calls me. Brown needs to meet with me again at 10 a.m., she says. Working at my other job all day, I send a former editor-in-chief in my place to the seemingly urgent meeting. But as it turns out, all Brown wants is to claim Student Affairs doesn’t want to control content, and to inform student media leaders about the reorganization of student media — even though the student media director had already scheduled a meeting to address the subject.

June 18: Seven business days after I first attempted to reach him, I interview Associate Dean of Students Terry Mena. Like Brown, he too refuses to answer questions, reinforcing my conclusion that Student Affairs won’t discuss student affairs with students.
June 18: The editorial board of the Palm Beach Post weighs in, concluding that “to improve student media, the university needs to first improve its communication with students.”
June 18: FAU’s posting for the position of the assistant student media director closes.

This week, I have two big meetings: one on Monday with the student media director and my fellow student media leaders to discuss FAU’s reorganization plan, and one on Tuesday with the committee that will select the assistant student media director.

To follow this story as it continues to unfold in its second month, check the Owl Management blog.