by Arielle Zerr
The Education Auditorium was a busy venue on the afternoon of March 6 when the University Council met for the first time in over 20 years.
As the venue filled up with faculty, administrators, students and the public, Regina news outlets were setting up their video cameras to record their segments for the nightly news. However, the media would ultimately be told they were not allowed to record the meeting.
University of Regina professor Patricia Elliott moved a motion to allow journalists to record the meeting but the motion was defeated.
But despite the ban on recording devices, Twitter came alive.
Under the hashtag “#UniversityCouncil”, some attendees took to the social media outlet to summarize the meeting’s motions and opinions.
Paula Krasiun-Winsel, a University of Regina psychology student unable to attend the meeting, was expecting the meeting to be in the news so she could receive the information after work. After reading on Twitter that media recording wouldn’t be allowed she was frustrated.
“Considering that transparency is a huge issue with this whole (academic program review) by not having a media presence and accessibility… I just thought that was kind of a backhanded move (to) keep information away from people,” she said.
So for Krasiun-Winsel, Twitter became the only way she could hear what came out of the meeting.
"I’d say I got a pretty good picture of what was going on from the people who were tweeting. They did a really good job saying who was speaking and what the motions were and the amendments were,” she said.
Vanessa Brown, a reporter for the Regina Leader-Post, wasn’t surprised her recorder was prohibited in the meeting because she had been told prior that it wouldn’t be allowed. However, she did have reservations about media restrictions in public meetings.
“It’s always concerning when controls are placed on the media during public meetings. We record for the purpose of accuracy so we don’t get it wrong. So the question then becomes, is it a true public meeting? And I don’t know if it was.”
Brown decided not to tweet during the meeting after President Timmons asked attendees to use discretion with social media, however, in hindsight Brown said she would have decided differently.
“If it’s a public meeting we need to be able to report on everything said. Social media’s exploded and I’ve noticed especially in Regina as a city hall reporter (the public) like it when you live tweet meetings. They want to engage… So I think there’s a vested interest in how an English major’s professor feels. I think there’s definitely a value in giving them that instant information.”
Journalism student Kristen McEwen did decide to live tweet the event and because of her tweets McEwen picked up new followers among people who were following her summary of the University Council events.
“The fact that I was hashtagging "#UniversityCouncil", people were actually starting to follow me because I was there and giving out this information that (they) couldn’t access themselves,” she said.
Students' Union president Nathan Sgrazzutti had some reservations about the public using Twitter as their only form of information on the University Council.
But Sgrazzutti admitted that in light of the media restrictions he was happy that U of R students- and the public had some way to follow the meeting if they couldn’t attend.