Cited in the Associated Press

April 20, 2017: Associated Press

This story, by the Associated Press was follow-up coverage to a story I oversaw. In  September of 2016,  UVM made national headlines for hanging a black lives matter flag alongside the Vermont and U.S. flags.  A few days later, the flag was stolen. We found out about through a public records request. Two fraternities had been suspended, one put in an appeal. I instructed my reporters to request the appeal. Once received a 157-page document with all names redacted, it was a lot of information:  University officials knew who stole the flag two days after it had been stolen  —  a fraternity pledge. After the fraternity found out, they unanimously voted to expel the pledge and turned him into University officials. Fingerprints confirmed. 

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Coverage of New Voices legislation

Background:

In October of 2016, my adviser rallied supporters of the first amendment to work towards reinstating the Tinker standard in Vermont. With the help of Student Press Law Center and the New Voices legislation movement a bill made its way to the Golden Dome, the Vermont Statehouse.  In January 2017, two high school newspaper editors and I went to the statehouse to testify before the Vermont senate. In May 2017, the law was signed, ensuring first amendment rights in schools.

January 2017

A screenshot of a blogpost by Chris Evans, UVM student media adviser, on the journey of the bill

 Below is an excerpt of a VTDigger article by Alan J. Keays that covered the senate meeting I testified at. Here, UVM’s student media adviser, a few high school editors expressed the need to bring the Tinker standard back to Vermont schools, citing instances of high school censorship and  speaking to the impact of a free student press.

Again, this is from an article by Alan B. Keays by VTDigger. It was originally published on Jan. 18, 2017. Read the entire article here.

 

 

 

 

 

On Vermont Public Radio

Dec. 4, 2015 – Vermont Public Radio, Morning Edition

‘Former UVM employee sues school over alleged equal pay violation’

 

VPR reported on this after the Vermont Cynic published my story, “UVM being sued for equal pay.” I was interviewed by VPR’s Mitch Wertlieb.

VPR’s Summary of this segment: “A former employee at the University of Vermont is suing the school, saying she was paid less than her male counterparts because of her gender.The university’s student newspaper The Cynic broke this story by obtaining documents from Vermont’s Superior Court, and reports that the lawsuit alleges former IT professional in Enterprise Technology Services Cynthia Reuscher experienced “disparities in pay, title and training opportunities.” The suit also alleges that she suffered “illegal retaliation” when she complained of the alleged denied access to training opportunities. Reuscher was let go in April due to budget cuts at UVM. Cynic reporter Kelsey Neubauer joined us for our Friday Regional Report to talk about the suit.  …”

 

Oct. 28, 2016 – Vermont Public Radio, The Frequency

‘UVM student newspaper wins national diversity story award’

 

VPR reported on the story that won the ACP’s Diversity Story of the Year Award. My co-author Bryan O’Keefe and I were interviewed by VPR’s Mitch Wertlieb.

VPR’s summary of this segment: This week, the University of Vermont’s student newspaper, the Vermont Cynic, won the Associated Collegiate Press’ 2016 Diversity Story of the Year award for a look back at the history of race at the university. In a series called “Exploring Race at UVM,” the paper examined past traditions like the Kake Walk, a yearly dance featuring students in blackface, and how that and other events on campus shaped UVM’s policies around race and diversity. VPR spoke with Kelsey Neubauer and Bryan O’Keefe, who co-wrote the series for the Vermont Cynic, to learn more about how they reported the story and what stuck out to them. Continue reading “On Vermont Public Radio”

In the Burlington Free Press

 Sept. 21, 2016: Burlington Free Press

‘UVM paper up for national award’

Free press staff writer Cory Dawson wrote about our story’s nomination for ACP’s diversity story of the year. In addition to being the author of this story, Cory is also my former editor and one of the people who inspired me to pursue journalism. It was an honor to be interviewed by such an incredible journalist. Below is a quote from an interview he did with me on the impact of the story, followed by his coverage:

 

“It was a solemn and thoughtful day for campus. You felt it, there was nobody who hadn’t heard about it on campus. There was this heaviness.”

 

 

 Below is the story as printed by Burlington Free Press on Sept. 21, 2016: 

For the second year in a row, student journalists at the University of Vermont are up for a national award  — this time for a retrospective on the Kake Walk, a popular UVM tradition that for decades brought the campus together to watch students dress up and dance, in blackface.

The Associated Collegiate Press, a national student journalism association, tapped reporters from the Vermont Cynic last week for a Diversity Story of the Year award. Their story, Kake Walk: Alumni, faculty and students reflect on 73-year tradition, was the first in a three part series examining race relations at UVM. Last year, Cynic reporters won the second place prize for News Story of the Year after submitting a piece on university dining contractor Sodexo’s labor practices.

“It was an all encompassing event, not only on campus but in Burlington. Everyone was part of this event,” said Kelsey Neubauer, a junior and one of the reporters on the Cynic story.

The Kake Walk was part of UVM culture since the early 1890s.  The event originated as a competition among slaves and the winners were awarded cake. Later, the event became more elaborate, incorporating costume, music and skits. The Cynic advertised the Kake Walk with colorful, full page prints every year.

The beginning of the end for the Kake Walk started in 1954 when an entire fraternity, Phi Sigma Delta, refused to wear blackface in protest, according to a UVM special collections website with pages of documents on the Kake Walk. The last Kake Walk was in 1969, but some campus groups were intent on bringing the event back.

Interviews with UVM alumni who were involved with the Kake Walk drive the Cynic story. Garrison Nelson, a UVM political science professor and a judge at the last Kake Walk in 1969, told the Cynic that there was a lot of speculation about a Kake Walk resurgence. That ended when Lattie Coor, president of UVM from 1976 to 1989 gave a clear message to campus, he told the Cynic in a video interview.

“When we came to him about it he said, look, there are three K’s in Kake Walk, like the Klu Klux Klan and we’re not going to do it,” Nelson said in the video.

Many students had little or broken knowledge of the Kake Walk before the Cynic story, said Hannah Kearns, editor-in-chief of the Cynic.

“Until the story idea was brought up to me I wasn’t completely aware of the tradition,” Kearns said.

The story was uniquely sensitive, Kearns said. Before going to print, Kearns reached out the Vice Provost for Student Affairs Annie Stevens and student groups like the Black Student Union and the African, Latino(a), Asian, and Native American student center, to let them know of the coming story and soliciting their reaction.

“We wanted them to know this was something we were going to publish, just because this piece and the two that followed could have been very triggering for some people,” Kearns said.

After the story was printed and distributed in late Feb. 2016, Neubauer said the campus was buzzing. Students huddled around copies of the Cynic. Professors read the article aloud in class.

“It was a solemn and thoughtful day for campus. You felt it, there was nobody who hadn’t heard about it on campus. There was this heaviness,” Neubauer said.

Finalists for the Diversity Story of the Year include the Cynic entry and nine other papers. Publications from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, UNC Chapel Hill and Northwestern University are all finalists in the same category. The awards will be distributed next month at the annual Associated Collegiate Press convention in Washington D.C.

“Of course I’m happy about being nominated for such a prestigious award,” Neubauer said. “But it’s still a weird feeling. This article should be for the whole campus.”

Disclosure: Cory Dawson was editor-in-chief of the Vermont Cynic from Nov. 2014 to Nov, 2015.