Koretzky to FAU Admins: "I'll Work for Free. Is That a Problem?"

Except for a glimpse of cleavage on page 7, there isn't much in the Summer 2010 print issue of Florida Atlantic University's student paper, the University Press, that you'd think would ruffle many administrative feathers.

Student reviews of teachers. Profiles of student orientation leaders. A bit about a parent-student association.

It's the special student orientation issue, perhaps not entirely representative of the kind of stuff the Boca-based UP puts out weekly during the academic year. But even in UP's online version, the  only story you'd think likely to cause tummy upset to FAU's Director of Student Media Marti Harvey or to Associate Dean of Students Terry Mena is the one about a student kidnapped during a hazing ritual last year.

Last week, Harvey and Mena announced the firing of longtime UP student adviser Michael Koretzky. They said they were taking the paper in "a new direction." And when Koretzky showed up last Friday for what they thought would be his final staff meeting, they were ready to give a heartfelt sendoff to the 40-something journalist who had been guiding the paper for 12 years.

They were in for a bit of a surprise.

Shutting up is not exactly Koretzky's M.O., and his "final" staff meeting provided the perfect opportunity to yank the rug out from under his bosses. Instead of exiting gently into the good night they were enthusiastically ushering him into, Koretzky announced that he was willing to continue as the paper's adviser. For free. Koretzky said he figured that since no new adviser had been hired or even advertised for, that they'd need his services. That wouldn't be a problem, would it?

Students and SG representatives applauded the announcement. But Harvey and Mena were stoney-faced. "They looked a little sour," Koretzky said by phone on Friday.

Koretzky says Harvey and Mena had long been pressuring student journalists at the UP to tone down their coverage of everything from on-campus art shows to search committees. "I tell the students again and again their rights are protected," Koretzky says, pointing to articles like this one covering the years-long faculty search that finally netted Marti Harvey as director of student media. Administrators argued that search committee meetings were not open to the public. Koretzky advised his ace reporters otherwise.

Administrators at FAU are control freaks, he says.

Mena told Koretzky that they wouldn't permit him to volunteer until they sat down to talk about it. And that if he wanted to show up at UP staff meetings, he'd have to fill out an "event registration form"  ten days in advance. Asked if they planned to have Koretzky arrested for tresspassing, the dean shrugged and said, "I don't deal in hypotheticals."

For now, Koretzky says, they'll be holding their Tuesday staff meetings at a burrito joint off campus, to prevent administrative interference. And next Friday, he'll show up at the UP newsroom to lead a planned critique of UP's web video reports.

Maybe the cops will be waiting to haul him off to jail, he says hopefully. "I'd like to go out in style," he says. "The total absurdity is too good to pass up. They're going to arrest me for talking about journalism."

Koretzky's new blog about his travails can be found here. "This is a personnel related issue and it is the policy of Florida Atlantic University to not discuss personnel realted issues," Marti Harvey said this morning in response to our emailed questions. 

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