Communication professor Barry Poyner’s patronizing prostitution charges this December continue to impact the Kirksville and Truman State University communities. Several attempts have been made by the communication department leaders to inform and assist those affected, however, lack of administrative intervention has led to insufficient transparency surrounding the issue, bringing more confusion than understanding.
Although students still have questions about Poyner’s case and employment circumstances, several steps have been taken by his academic department to clear up any misunderstandings and make information available. For instance, the COMM at Truman Twitter account stands as an active source and distributor of knowledge regarding the situation, liking a live tweet thread reporting a meeting recap and general updates on the trial so followers can find that material on their feed.
Recent endeavors to notify the public of ongoing developments might not be enough to overcome the immense hardship placed on those involved, however. A meeting coordinated for communication majors and minors on Wednesday was meant to be a source of support for affected students and staff, but neglected a large campus base that still searches for answers. Attendees were alerted by email and told they could bring a friend, but the general public was not invited and video was not permitted. Why, amid one of the largest scandals Truman has witnessed in the past year, is information seemingly being kept from those it impacts the most?
Items discussed at the meeting included three cancelled classes with two being major courses, class reassignments for students, available counseling for proper grievance, Title IX limitations and Poyner’s job outlook. Some of these topics, however, could not be thoroughly covered due to the limited abilities of individual staff members.
One person not in attendance that night was Truman President Sue Thomas. As multiple members of the student body voiced their opinion in an open forum regarding a highly sensitive community topic, it was deemed unnecessary for the leader of our University to make an appearance. We see that action, or lack thereof, suggestive of the overall apathy conveyed on an administrative level throughout the course of this incident.
It cannot be assumed that all Truman students have access to that media, though. People ought to be granted insight on recent events without exclusivity; therefore Truman’s highest offices should be reaching out to all who wish to know more on multiple mediums.
Ongoing efforts to advise a concerned Kirksville populace over Poyner’s misconduct have been important, but prove to be inadequate. More accessible developments on Poyner’s status could prompt a multitude of responses throughout the community — but perhaps that is exactly what is being actively prevented. In any event, students, staff and community members should have the ability to share their stories, seek further understanding and make sense of the issue without obstruction.
We, The Index Editorial Board, appreciate reparative measures but believe more foresight might have lessened the situation’s scope. Poyner was allegedly identified years ago as a potential threat by some students and staff, according to a statement read at the meeting, yet no further investigation followed. Although complaint anonymity often prevents full pursuit of alleged offenders, comments themselves should have indicated a few red flags. If Truman wishes to promote an environment conducive to student respect and advocacy, it must acknowledge these tips more proactively in the future.