Why The Sunflower is livestreaming

Compliance is important to us, as it should be.


Reid Linot

Facebook live-stream of SGA meeting on Oct. 4.

The Student Government Association of Wichita State is dropping their Facebook livestream of Student Senate meetings, and, effective immediately, The Sunflower is picking things back up.

The Sunflower will continue to stream for the duration of the year.

SGA is cutting their stream to remain compliant — they would like to add emphasis on their exceptional compliance. They’re adhering to a civil rights lawsuit by Emily Schlenker, a blind pre-med student. In July 2016, WSU entered into an agreement with the National Federation of the Blind, and appointed an accessibility coordinator to make university resources available to the visually impaired. The university, including all instructors, is on a two-year training period that requires compliance to new ADA-compliant visual standards in the classroom.

Accommodations for hearing-impaired students require closed-captions on all videos.

These enforced standards go into effect at the start of the 2018-19 academic year.

SGA took an early jump to maintain compliance. As a result, they have partnered with the Media Resource Center to stage a production full of cameras, microphones, and a profusion of wires. They’ll record meetings and post them to YouTube at a later date.

YouTube offers a close-captioning service that will pick up audio and transcribe it — it’s choppy at best.

They could also offer more clear captions by having someone painstakingly transcribe the meetings.

But most meetings run for more than two hours, and that’s quite a bit of transcription.

Additionally, SGA said YouTube will reach larger audiences, adding that not everyone has access to Facebook. SGA’s page can also be accessed without logging into a Facebook account.

SGA leaders have vocally advised The Sunflower to follow suit and not engage in streaming.

The Sunflower is not streaming because SGA and the Media Resource Center said “no.” We’re streaming because we can, because we should, and because we see it as a purpose to fulfill journalistic duties.

Live, up-to-the-minute reporting is an essential component of journalism at any level, including college newspapers.

SGA is free to follow any procedure they wish, but no set of regulations forbid The Sunflower or any other entity from livestreaming. Student Senate meetings are open to the public, and, like any public event, you’re free to produce live accounts of the events.

Livestreaming is an easy and effective method of documenting events and offering audiences real-time engagement. As we saw last year, things can happen in a hurry at Student Senate meetings.

Cutting the stream doesn’t mean SGA is attempting to break off transparency or hide anything from the student population — though they could hide something behind a blacked-out livestream.

The Sunflower is looking hard at the cost and availability of software to make our livestreams ADA compliant. For now, we have been told by the MRC that they are busy with the set-up for the Economic Outlook Conference. We’re waiting to hear back. Until then, we’re doing our best.

Compliance is important to us, as it should be.