Article contained numerous errors

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my concerns about the Issue 4 (March 12-25) article, “Waiting to exhale: Some student desks a tight fit.”

This fiscal year, the Downtown Campus was awarded a capital allocation for a much-needed project to replace classroom desks.

In mid-February, as part of the purchasing process, we arranged for a three-day “sit test” so students could evaluate and provide feedback on the models of classroom seating options that were under investigation.

More than 150 students participated in the “sit test,” ranked the seating options, and provided other comments and feedback.

This process was an endeavor by the Downtown Campus Cabinet to be as inclusive as possible in regards to a major purchasing decision that would have a direct impact on students and their classroom experience.

I was initially pleased when I learned an  Aztec Press reporter was interested in writing a story about our efforts. It is rare that someone takes an interest in behind-the-scenes processes such as purchasing, so I readily agreed to be interviewed for the article.

I was surprised when the article came out to find that I was quoted so extensively, and then disturbed to find that the words I was quoted as speaking were not my own.

During the interview, I did give an estimated figure of $1,200 in reference to one of the table/chair seating options. This was the highest cost option, which seats multiple students and included all available accessories.

In the course of the interview I also quoted much lower figures for estimates on other seating options that we were investigating, including single-seat desks. This context and content was not reported.

I am also troubled by being quoted as saying the desks we purchase need to “outlast the rough treatment they get from students.” This is not something that I did or would say.

I did reference durability during our discussion. When it comes to furniture, “durability” is an industry term. However, I did not characterize our students’ treatment of desks or other college property as rough or abusive in any way.

I also did not say, “There is a whole warehouse full of broken desks and chairs that are not useable.” No such warehouse exists.

At the Downtown Campus, we do have a small, open area where we store broken desks and try to fix the ones that can be repaired. This area, which encompasses approximately 25 square feet, currently contains nine desks that are not suitable for use in the classroom.

We did discuss issues with warranties, but the conversation did not occur as reported in the article.

While I realize the article was presented as an opinion piece, I believe it should still be well sourced and cited.

I have a major issue with being directly quoted as stating phrases that I never spoke, delivering facts that are inaccurate and expressing sentiments that are not characteristic of me in any way.

I am pleased to report that the project to purchase replacement classroom furniture for the Downtown Campus has moved forward.

Utilizing the feedback gained from students, we are currently executing a purchase order to refurnish 10 classrooms with more appropriate, accessible and comfortable seating in time for summer sessions. The price of each desk came in at $423.50 before tax.

I would also like to correct one last error in the article: I do not hold two positions at the Downtown Campus.  I was conflated with the campus president’s support coordinator, with whom I share a first name.

Andrew Plucker

Director of Administrative Services

Downtown Campus

Filed Under: Opinion

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