Andrea Eger has worked in the same Oklahoma town for close to 18 years.
After working at the Oklahoman as the night and weekend cops reporter during her senior year of college at the University of Oklahoma, Eger began working at the Tulsa World.
Eger started reporting on cops for The World in 1999 and then moved on to education, and is now on the special projects team, where she spends most of her time working on in-depth enterprise pieces.
“Projects reporting is very different than it used to be because our staffing levels are lower,” Eger said. “So I still do some education reporting. Everybody ends up having some other responsibility.”
One of Eger’s most recent enterprise articles, “’I need to be disturbed’: Sex assaults around campus prompt TU president to ‘make things right,’” was published Sept. 23, 2017, and focuses on how the new administration at the University of Tulsa is trying to change the campus culture around sexual assault amid a string of sexual assault cases.
The World had been reporting on the various cases and the projects team decided to write a longer story over the issue, Eger said.
“We knew that their (reported sexual assaults) had gone up sky high,” Eger said. “As the situation compounded, we started talking about what a story would look like.”
Eger said she went to TU President Gerard Clancy first, a practicing psychologist who was the previous OU-Tulsa president and took over TU’s presidency in November 2016, to talk about what he was doing to address these issues.
“I said that I wasn’t there for any spin on the situation and I just wanted to know what they were going to do about it,” Eger said. “I asked what are some things that people don’t know that he’s done, and that’s how I got the detail about him wanting to be alerted in the middle of the night if one of his students had been sexually assaulted.”
After Clancy, Eger went on to interview the editor of TU’s student paper, the Collegian, as well as talking with various student activists, the campus’ sexual assault investigator and a victim who had written an open letter to the university. Eger also spent extensive time looking over sexual assault data that could contribute context to her story.
“I got a lot more data than I actually used,” Eger said. “There was a judgement call on what to include, so some of it didn’t make it into the final piece, but I thought the context was really vital so people could see the drastic changes in how many sexual assaults had occurred on the campus.”
The reporting process took roughly six weeks, which included some follow-up interviews and some interviews that were not included, Eger said, and the story was written in about three days.
“I think the most difficult part was making sure that I got the right attitude or temperature of how things are on the campus, because things had been heated and people were voicing their outrage,” Eger said. “Now, students all over told me that they think things will be handled differently and better by the new administration and so they want to give them a chance to do the right thing. So I had to be careful.”
Even though reporting on the sexual assaults was difficult, it was also necessary to shed light on the negative situations so close to home, Eger said.
“I’ve worked in this city for almost 18 years and when you work in a place long enough, you see this sense of investment and ownership and you really care,” Eger said. “I think most of us care when our work makes a difference and when we help our communities. I live here and it’s a terrible thing that happened and you want to hold people accountable and help to find a change.”