UH found itself in the midst of a media disagreement recently over their decision to purchase the broadcast tower and FCC license of KTRU from Rice University.
Faculty, students and alumni from both sides are outraged at both UH and Rice administration’s secrecy. Since the news broke on Aug. 17, Rice students and KTRU supporters have risen up in protest with rallies, meetings and petitions. Now some of UH is stepping up to show the administrations that Rice students aren’t the only ones opposed to the sale.
A group of UH alumni and students have created their own online petition specifically targeting President Renu Khator and the UH administration for their involvement in the “secret deal” to buy KTRU.
In the petition it states, “by voting to authorize the purchase of KTRU without informing students or the general public prior to the vote, we believe that the UH Board of Regents failed in its responsibility as the governing body of a public institution to keep the community informed of important University decisions.”
Both the Rice and UH administrations are being accused of negotiating in secrecy, and disregarding the need for student and public input in the decision.
“This is a blemish on the University,” UH Psychology junior Lauren Colmer said. “Taking this channel away from the students not only makes us look bad, but also deprives the Houston music scene of the eclectic music broadcast on KTRU.”
Colmer and other KTRU advocates believe that the student-run format of Rice radio allows for a diverse and enjoyable listening experience, unlike the commercially viable music played on most other FM stations.
UH and Rice alumni have voiced their intent to cut funding to the universities if the deal goes through. Whether or not the public disagreement will be enough to stop the agreement is still unclear.
The petitioners for UH for KTRU have called on the University to “restore openness and transparency to the university’s administration by ending all negotiations with Rice University for KTRU.”
The signatures of the petitioners are from a ranage of different areas across the nation.
“As a Rice alum, I am deeply disappointed by the decision to eliminate a distinctive piece of Rice and Houston culture,” online petitioner Frederick Gray from Colorado said on the KTRU petiton website. “I hope that UH will use more careful thought than Rice’s shortsighted administration has done here.”
Some of the local petitioners were specific with their complaints, targeting the fact that UH would change the content of the radio station.
“I love public radio, but Houston needs the diversity of KTRU,” Christopher Spadone wrote on the petition’s website. “Additionally, I would prefer not to have a 24 hour news feed. I love KUHF’s current balance.”
UH alumni who signed the petition shared their thoughts on being longtime listeners.
“I have been listening to KTRU since I arrived in Houston in 1980. I understand the reasons why the Rice board sold (the station) and the reasons why KUHF decided to buy. Those reasons are rational,” UH alumnus Daniel Massey wrote. “The problem is that a creative non-establishment open-minded voice has been silenced.”
So far, 195-plus signatures have been collected toward the overall goal of 1,000. The online petition is available at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/UH-for-KTRU/.