Group of students voices opposition to KTRU acquisition at Board meeting
Several UH students voiced their opposition about the buyout of Rice University’s student-run radio station KTRU in the recent Board of Regents meeting.
Multiple students consecutively spoke to the straight-faced board members at the Wednesday meeting, and each student expressed a loss of confidence they had in the institution. Many UH students referred to the deal as a “black eye” on the university.
Nick Cooper, Rice alumnus and member of the local award-winning jazz band Free Radicals, told UH Regents they should “be ashamed at the way the situation was handled.”
Cooper said the loss of KTRU would be a monumental blow to local musicians like himself who gain exposure through the student run station.
Jonathan Stewart, an executive member of Rice’s student government association, went as far as to warn the Regents against entering into a contract with an institution such as Rice.
He said that the institution has practiced the utmost secrecy with its students and entering into any kind of contract with them would be “bad business and a risky investment.”
The Regents told the students that they could not respond or comment on this matter at this time.
Reactions have been similar throughout the UH community.
“As a communications student at UH, I am disheartened by our administration’s underhanded dealings,” Vincent Capurso, a volunteer D.J. at KTRU, said. “Is this what we are teaching business majors, deception?”
Similarly, disapproving headlines ran across the city, even state before the Regents meeting. A recent headline in Texas Watchdog read, “University of Houston practiced deception, cooked up a ‘cover story’ as it closed the deal to acquire Rice University’s KTRU radio station.”
The article uncovered e-mails from the Director of Acquisitions at Public Radio Capital Erik Langer, to Greg Guy, a broker representing Rice in the deal. In the e-mails, controversy broke out about the two universities’ loyalty to their students. It showed evidence between officials, agreeing to keep the deal a secret.
KTRU station manager Joey Yang and music director Kevin Bush said they never suspected anything like this was going on behind their backs, but that the incident has confirmed suspicions about how the administration does business.
“They [the UH and Rice administrations] took steps to make sure it was something that wouldn’t draw our attention,” Bush said. “Although the Texas Watchdog article(s) may not demonstrate any legal malfeasance, they do show that the process was very underhanded.”
The 30-day window for public comment with the Federal Communications Commission ends Dec. 2.