EDITORIAL: UPD lacks transparency

The Runner Staff

When disaster strikes or humanity is put in danger, it is rational to look for answers from those who are meant to protect us.

This is true even at CSU Bakersfield.

There have been many instances where we as the editorial board of The Runner newspaper have felt that the authorities on campus have not responded to our questions.

The University Police Department needs to communicate in a faster and more efficient manner for the sake of student safety.

We want transparency from the department.

UPD has not always been cooperative with disseminating information on incidents affecting campus safety.

In many instances, we have been given little to no information due to the fact the officers responding to the scene of an incident are not allowed to give out any kind of information.

The most frustrating aspect of writing any kind of story that involves UPD is that it will take us weeks to get any kind of response from the department.

Any kind of information given by UPD has to come from Chief of Police Marty Williamson directly.

If information is to be shared, we appreciate it coming from the highest authority of that organization.

However, to even be able to talk to the chief, we first must contact Director of Public Affairs and Communications Michael Lukens.

Lukens is in charge of mediating between UPD and every media outlet.

This process is too slow, and it is inefficient when time is of the essence, for example, when writing a breaking news story or trying to inform students with immediate information.

In one instance, The Runner was investigating an unlawful touching incident that happened near the library.

However, because we could not talk to Williamson or anyone to confirm exactly what happened, we ran the story incorrectly referring to it as sexual harassment, because that is what it seemed. 

Now, we could have checked the Clery Report to see how this incident was defined, but the fact of the matter is, they preach transparency.

However, giving out information one week after an incident is not transparent enough to inform our campus community.

Had there been a more efficient way to talk to the authorities, the newspaper would have known what to call the incident.

We respect UPD’s need to investigate each case and report it thoroughly, but there needs to be a faster way to provide some information, even if it’s just brief details of what they have gathered at the moment.