Geneseo was ranked among the least transparent out of 10 Western New York colleges and universities evaluated in a report released by the Buffalo Niagara Coalition for Open Government on March 8.
Considering the frequency with which the student body complains about the transparency of administration, this should not come as a shock. Geneseo’s administration must take considerable action toward improvement.
While none of the schools in the survey received a passing score—reflecting a broader issue with the transparency of higher education institutions—Geneseo scored exceptionally low. The college was one of two colleges that earned a zero out of 100, according to the report.
The coalition assessed each college’s College Council or Board of Trustees based on their adherence to New York state’s Open Meetings Law. These laws require that government bodies—including public colleges—make it as easy as possible for the public to access information surrounding public meetings.
The report found that Geneseo’s College Council—a regulatory body made up of members appointed by the governor—did not provide easy-to-find meeting agendas, minutes or video recordings, all of which are required for public bodies under the Open Meeting Law.
Although the college does livestream its meetings and one video recording from the February 2 meeting is available online, the report notes that the Open Meeting Law asks that public bodies keep video recordings for five years, when possible.
Minutes and agendas for one Geneseo committee may not seem like a huge hole in transparency, especially since students could still attend the meetings if they wanted, but if the public and the student body is not kept informed through minutes or livestreams, how can they make their voices known? The same question could be asked about the College Senate, which does not post minutes and video online, without them being requested first.
While students should have been taken seriously all along solely since we are the ones most directly affected by policy, this transparency report can be taken forward as a tool to bargain for more clarity and straight-forwardness from administration.