Archivist encourages community to cooperate with Echo reporters

Last week I read the column written by The Echo’s News Editor, Austin DuVall. For the sake of full disclosure I must tell you that my wife’s maiden name is DuVall, but we do not believe that she and Austin are related.

I also must tell you I admire the research and writing of Austin DuVall. He is very thorough in his research and is an excellent writer.

Not too long ago I wrote him a letter letting him know how much I appreciated the specificity and clarity I observed in one of his Echo articles. My position at UCA is director of archives and special collections. I am a certified archivist and my main responsibility is to preserve the history of the State of Arkansas and its residents by acquiring primary documents that then are housed at UCA.

I also write about Arkansas history and have several articles that are published on the online Encyclopedia of Arkansas, but most of my writing has been about the history of UCA.

As of this date I have written approximately 90 articles on UCA history, given more than 100 presentations on UCA history and authored one book, The Centennial History of the University of Central Arkansas.

The main source for most of my UCA articles was and is The Echo. The real keepers of UCA history are the student reporters who have written for The Echo since its first publication in November 1909. The information published by all of The Echo writers from 1909 to present day and that will be published in the future is absolutely vital to preserving the history of UCA.

While the students who make up The Echo staff may not see themselves as writers of history, they are in fact creating a permanent record that people like me will use one day to write about UCA’s past.

That is why it is imperative that all Echo writers be given the information they need to write a factually accurate story. If a reporter is given less than complete information, then he or she will be unable to write a factually accurate report. This means someone in my position could use the reporter’s work and unknowingly draw a false conclusion.

In his Echo column last week Austin stated, “I have covered several things this semester that have led me to roadblocks along the way. Why is that?” When I read Austin DuVall’s column, I wondered what particular event he was talking about. However, I did not contact him to ask because it doesn’t matter.

Unless an Arkansas State Statute or U.S. Federal Law prohibits otherwise, Echo reporters deserve to be given the information that they have requested and should not be met with roadblocks of any kind.

As Austin stated in his column, “Would you stand in the way of a psychology student surveying students in the Student Center? No, you wouldn’t.”  His analogy makes perfect sense to me.  So, should anyone stand in the way of The Echo reporters when they are trying to do their jobs?  No, they shouldn’t.

In the not too distant past UCA adopted a phrase that became the acronym AVID: UCA dedicates itself to Academic Vitality, Integrity, and Diversity and UCA employees were asked to place this phrase on their email signature line. Are all of us at UCA (including myself) adhering to the spirit and intent of AVID?

Hopefully, whatever roadblocks Austin DuVall encountered were a one-time phenomenon and will not occur again.  For the sake of UCA’s past, present and future, let’s hope it was a one-time event.

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