Despite a previous statement by the Board of Trustees saying media would be allowed to attend the special executive meeting April 2, an identified representative of Vanguard was barred from the meeting room and instructed to wait in the lobby.
In the official notice of public meeting published on March 29, the Board stated that “representatives of the media may attend the executive session, on the condition that they agree not to disclose information discussed.”
According to Associate Vice President for University Communications Chris Broderick, PSU general counsel Cindy Starke said if a reporter from student media had been at the law firm, “that individual would have been allowed into the meeting under the Open Meetings Law with the same restrictions that applied to other news media.”
However, once a Vanguard representative attempted to enter the meeting, they were told to stay outside. Barring a representative of student media from attending the Board of Trustees meeting is a violation of the Open Meetings law.
Broderick stated “executive sessions of state and local governing boards that discuss exempt topics such as personnel or legal issues are confidential…but credentialed news media are allowed to attend.”
Starke confirmed representatives from The Oregonian and Oregon Public Broadcasting attended the meeting.
Vanguard was not informed these representatives were present in the meeting, as directions from the Board of Trustees were to keep media waiting outside in the lobby.
The official notice also stated the Board intended to discuss “information or records that are exempt by law from public inspection based on attorney-client privilege.”
“Information exempt by law from public inspection” refers to the public records released to The Oregonian in February for a piece written about PSU President Rahmat Shoureshi regarding the controversy within his 17 months in office. The PSU faculty senate requested access to those public records but has not received a response from the administration.
The meeting was held in Stoel Rives, a business law firm located off campus in downtown Portland. Stoel Rives is the largest law firm in Oregon and provides legal representation in a host of fields including education.
In this field, Stoel Rives “identifies and resolves potential liability and avoids litigation through policy development, compliance audits and training programs.”
Board meetings are conventionally held in the Academic and Student Recreation Center in the university boardroom on campus.
A representative of Stoel Rives said in a voicemail they could not comment on “the executive session held on [April 2] or the attorney representing the university.”