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Staff Editorial: Facebook Live aids accountability

Over the past few months, Facebook has been promoting its “Live” function — a way for people and pages to share video content as it happens on social media. Last September, The New York Times used it to broadcast an interview on Google Hangout with Edward Snowden. Just yesterday evening, Buzzfeed News hosted a livestream from the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota as the Army Corps and local police arrested people from a Dakota Access Pipeline camp.

We’ve even made our foray in using Facebook Live, from broadcasting First Year Sing to covering the Gund Gallery’s panel on Tuesday, which featured filmmaker Nizar Wattad and photographer Rania Matar. We plan to expand our live coverage of speakers on campus and include more live interviews conducted by Collegian staff.

Facebook Live provides us with a great opportunity to show what’s happening on campus right now. Students with evening seminars can catch up on talks they had to miss, and alumni and students off campus can see what’s happening on the Hill. While after-the-fact reporting is still essential, some things are better watched live.

For that reason, we think the Collegian is not the only campus organization that should utilize Facebook Live. Student Council meetings should be broadcast for all of Kenyon to see. While minutes are emailed to all students after each meeting, the notes fail to capture the full discussions that take place during each meeting. In-person attendance is always preferable, because it allows greater interaction between students and Student Council. But the number of students who attend Student Council meetings is low, so it’s clear Student Council could benefit from using a new way to interact with the community.

There’s precedent for this use of Facebook Live: both the Columbia Engineering Student Council and Columbia College Student Council at Columbia University livestream every meeting for greater accessibility. Posting videos online, as student councils at other schools have begun doing, would allow the Kenyon community to observe the actions of their governing bodies in an easy fashion —  right in their Facebook newsfeed. Facebook Live is a free service that anyone with a Facebook account and a smartphone can access.

This could extend to the Board of Trustees and other administrative bodies as well. Broadcasting portions of the three board meetings on Kenyon’s Facebook page would enhance transparency and give those of us on the Hill a better sense of what the Trustees’ responsibilities are and how they make decisions. Viewers could leave comments on the videos to spur dialogue during the meetings. The Board also releases notes at the end of their meetings. But it would be more valuable to watch the deliberations, whenever possible.

Student Council, the Board of Trustees and other administrative bodies should take advantage of technology like Facebook Live to share their work. If these governing bodies truly want students, faculty and staff to engage, they should make their meetings more accessible. We have a right to know what is going on at our College.

We have the necessary technology, so we should show — not tell.

Devon Musgrave-Johnson

Devon Musgrave-Johnson is Arts Editor of the Collegian.

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