This past July, the administration at Purdue Fort Wayne eliminated College Access TV. They did so with no real public discussion, even with those who use CTV and with little warning to those who work at CTV.
Since the closure, faculty and staff have been vocal to administration in their opposition to this change, both in regard to the loss it represents to the college and to the rather underhanded way it was carried out.
In a recent meeting with faculty, the chancellor attempted to defend the closure. One thing he presented in defense was that, “In the three months since CTV was shut down, there have been no complaints,” implying that the station is not really missed. This is a sham.
NASA TV is broadcast in its place, so people may not realize the station has been shut down. I know people think this station is important; they just don't know they should be complaining about its loss.
CTV is a valuable resource for our community, and there is no other option in both accessibility and purpose.
Think about the last time you accidentally hit on the PFW Jazz Ensemble Concert while channel-surfing, and really enjoyed the music. The School of Music and Performing Arts Department regularly used CTV to broadcast their performances. It was considered a valuable recruiting tool since people who would not necessarily attend concerts or performances could actually see the quality work that was produced by students and faculty.
Communication students have, in the past, had access to the equipment at CTV and were able to check the equipment out to complete required projects. Work-study positions existed at CTV, supporting students who were trying to learn broadcasting. None of this exists anymore. The loss is yet another dilution of our local university.
Partnerships existed among PFW, Ivy Tech and Saint Francis that allowed the departments in those colleges to broadcast materials produced by their schools. Those schools were not involved in the decision to close CTV, and are now left to find different avenues to fulfill what they consider to be an important part of their mission: community outreach.
PFW has stated that CTV has redundancy with WFWA-TV39; however, WFWA is not a public access channel, and has no obligation to broadcast locally produced shows, such as those produced by students and school departments.
The budget for CTV has been around $300,000 annually, which is around 0.002% of the university budget.
Although budgets are always tight, and it is the job of any organization to properly shepherd its limited funds, it should not be possible to redistribute funds by simply eliminating a widely used, supportive resource that has cross-organizational value without input from the various schools and organizations affected by that decision. The abrupt and quiet way the closure was handled suggests that the chancellor knew there would be opposition to the change, and simply did not want to entertain it.
Chancellor Ronald Elsenbaumer has stated that it is now the job of faculty who wish for CTV to continue to secure external funding. Consider that fund-raising is a full-time job in many organizations and, certainly, there are administrative employees at PFW for whom a large segment of their job is devoted to that purpose. Do we really want to blithely lay that burden on the faculty, whose job description does not primarily focus on that responsibility? Should we expect our faculty to divert time from preparing for their primary job, providing high-level college instruction, just because the administrative body no longer wants to do fundraising?
It is a disingenuous offer, at best. The chancellor knows that the ability to consistently raise and manage funding for CTV is simply outside the ability of the faculty and that it is a non-starter. It's a foolish, insulting directive that demonstrates a lack of respect for the faculty he represents.
Write to Chancellor Elsenbaumer at PFW, and tell him there are complaints: that you value CTV, that you feel the college has an obligation to support this channel, and that it needs to be reinstated and fully funded by the college. Go sign the “Save College Cable Access TV at Purdue Fort Wayne” petition at change.org/. Our local university is the largest brick-and-mortar satellite campus of one of the most prominent colleges in the country. We deserve better from its leadership.
Laura Steele is a Fort Wayne resident.