WSC replaces two media advisers

Derek Pufahl, Editor

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Two of the three media advisers in Wayne State College’s Communicaction Arts Department are not resuming their positions this fall.
Both have been replaced, and both are outspoken about the reasons. The two also believe that there is a needed change in the faculty union contract.
Professor Max McElwain was the adviser to the student-run college newspaper, The Wayne Stater. McElwain and the newspaper were awarded the Intellectual Freedom Award from the Academic Freedom Coalition of Nebraska on July 10.
Associate Professor Maureen Carrigg was the adviser for the student television broadcast, Catvision 6. The station received First Place in the Television Station of the Year category at the Golden Leaf Awards ceremony in April.
Director of College Relations Jay Collier said McElwain has been “reassigned” from his advisory position and one course. “He is still teaching classes. He has been reassigned from the newswriting class, and that’s because that material goes directly into the Stater.”
Collier said the reassignment is a personnel issue and that he is unable to discuss it per the faculty union agreement, which is available on the Nebraska State College System’s website.
Collier added that when something is considered a personnel issue, it usually includes disciplinary action.
McElwain publicly responded to his reassignment in the Academic Freedom Coalition of Nebraska’s quarterly newsletter
In the article, he said his removal from the advisory position, was “a silly, cherry-picked retaliation for the news coverage for which The Wayne Stater won the AFCON award: thorough, consistent reportage of The Nebraska State College System and the actions of  Chancellor Stan Carpenter.”
In reference to McElwain’s reassignment, Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center Frank LoMonte addressed the college administration with this statement in an Inside Higher Ed article published July 19:
“Historical experience tells us that very frequently, the removal of an adviser is retaliatory for students’ editorial content decisions… The onus will be on Wayne State to come forward promptly and demonstrate that they had a legitimate and nonretaliatory reason (for McElwain’s reassignment).”
“It’s kind of a blanket statement,” Collier said. “To say something like ‘often it’s the result of X,’ when we’re not at liberty to discuss this, because it’s a personnel issue. How are we supposed to do that (prove that McElwain’s reassignment is not retaliatory) when we abide by the letter of the negotiated agreement that’s faculty approved through their union representative?
“It’s a big jump to assume that just because a particular action is taken, that it’s retaliation. It’s the old causation versus correlation.”
In the case of the television adviser, Carrigg, Collier said it started out as a personnel issue and turned into a resignation.
Carrigg had worked at Wayne State College for 28 years. The personnel issues arose when it was found that she had an incomplete on her graduate transcript, which Carrigg says she is in the process of finishing up.
“I saw what going through a hearing process did to a friend of mine, and I just felt like I couldn’t do that to myself,” Carrigg said. “It was the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make.
“I’m hoping the faculty at Wayne State College will take this all as a cautionary tale and look over Section 17 of the contract.”
In McElwain’s AFCON article, he too called for a change to the contract agreement. “Administration officials have taken the AAUP statement and twisted it into a complete muzzling of any public statement by faculty or administration on any personnel proceedings.”
McElwain’s advising position is being taken over by Eddie Elfers, the director of the Technology Resource Center. Elfers advised the paper and taught journalism from 1992 to 1999.
Carrigg’s position is being taken over by an adjunct professor, Mike White. White graduated from the University of South Dakota in 2015 with a degree in higher education and adult learning.


Afcon Article – Integrity of NSCS Questioned at Wayne State College after the Removal of Faculty Adviser from the Student Newspaper

Inside Higher Ed