Editorial: Why transparency on campus matters to students

Recently, our staff comes up against a barrage of barriers when attempting to further research involving important topics affecting the whole student body at large. Sad to say, however, these barriers are being enacted by our own administration.
Matters of safety and security that students need to know, such as what to do when someone is sexually assaulted and wants to report it, in addition to serious rumors regarding crime, are being brushed off and The Blue Bannerremains stonewalled. The school, at large, remains uncooperative and avoidant about helping us research these issues that scratch the surface of concern for every college student. This creates a problem, not just for us who are reporters, but the entirety of UNC Asheville’s community as consumers.
For nearly every subject we want to interview the administration about, we are asked to send in our questions via email then they will send it back to us with the questions we are “allowed” to ask. Meaning, they screen then approve or reject our questions.
Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, said he had never heard of such a situation at other universities when we told him about this common response by our administration. Having the questions screened prior to the interview allows the interviewee to prepare a response, this ultimately defeats the honesty and authenticity of the interview.  
For one of our staff members, who had no trouble interviewing a presidential candidate off-the-cuff and without screening questions over email, the fact our administration is deliberately preventing us from researching issues and concerns of importance to the student body as a whole is a disgrace.
We get it. We are writing for a student newspaper. However, we are journalists and deserve to be respected and treated as such. In addition to being young journalists, we are also students. Our main role at UNC Asheville is to be a student, to get a degree and to graduate. We should be treated not specifically as press, but students who are advocating for other students.
Despite being press-in-the-making, we are still college students who want to discuss needs, conflicts, opinions and issues brought to this campus and surrounding areas. Our hope is being able to reach out to the faculty and staff as resources and not have to jump through hoops to speak with them. We value their role on campus and we would appreciate if they would value both of our roles, as students and press, in return.
This editorial was co-written with Audra Goforth and Erika Williams. It was originally published in The Blue Banner