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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Student talks Rose on Boston area T.V.

Published: March 20, 2009
Section: News

Student Union Director of Communication’s Jamie Ansorge’s ’09 appearance on WGBH’s Greater Boston to discuss the future of the Rose Art Museum has sparked anger among Brandeis students who see his appearance as a public relations stunt by the university.

Ansorge was a guest on Greater Boston with Joyce Perkit, a Rose family member just one day after the Rose family formally objected to any effort by the university to change the Rose Art Museum’s role on campus.

Ansorge’s appeared on the show after host Emily Rooney contacted Rasky Baerlein, the university’s contracted public relations firm, asking to host a member of the school’s administration on the show, according to the company’s founder Joe Baerlein.

Baerlein said that he told Rooney that members of the administration wanted to respect the newly formed Rose Committee—which is charged with academically integrating the museum into the university—and thought that appearing on the program would be forcing their opinions on the committee.

Baerlein then contacted university Provost Marty Krauss asking for recommendations for which student would be good to appear on the program.

Krauss originally suggested Student Union President Jason Gray ’10, who was busy writing his state of the Union Address, and therefore picked Ansorge for the program.

Ansorge, who met with members of the public relations firm before going on the program, said that he tried to present a middle of the ground viewpoint, saying “I don’t think I was just the university’s pawn. I said some things in defense of the Rose that they might not have liked.”

Baerlein told The Hoot that Ansorge did a “good job.”

Julia Sferlazzo ’09, a Fine Arts major, said that she was upset by Ansorge’s appearance not for his “middle of the road answers” but because “it just seems like a PR stunt from the administration.”

Sferlazzo said that “by having a student appear on the show rather than a member of the administration, you don’t let the interviewer ask any hard hitting questions. Students can’t learn the facts.”

Sferlazzo continued to say that by not appearing on the show and answering questions about the future of the Rose, the administration makes it impossible for students to formulate informed opinions about what will happen to the museum.

Baerlein, however, said that such claims are unfounded, saying “you can’t have it both ways.”

“Many people have criticized the administration for not letting the students have a voice on the Rose issue,” he said. “We thought having a student like Jamie go on the show would be enlightening for the viewers. No one put a gun to Jamie’s head and told him what to think, we just gave him the opportunity to let the students’ voices be heard.”

Sferlazzo, however, is not convinced.

“If [Ansorge] went on the show to represent student voice, then why didn’t he have the opportunity to talk to students beforehand?” she said. “he didn’t talk to students, instead, they had him talk to PR people.”