Administration Takeover a Repeat
Former Eagle Editor talks about Eagle History
By R.Michael Johnson
a.k.a Uncle Bob
- As you've discovered, freedom of speech seems to falter when it reaches
the door of the college newspaper. The reasons for this are somewhat complicated.
Colleges and universities have always been nervous about their student
newspapers, and not without justification. Any publication that carries
the name of an institution carries some heavy baggage. Disclaimers not
withstanding, the paper is a direct reflection of the views and policies
of that particular institution. One would think that the opinion/editorial
page is neutral territory, where controversial or critical ideas might
be expressed. Experience demonstrates that this is not always the case.
- Indulge me for a moment as I add another brief chapter to the Eagle
history as told by Uncle Bob. When we decided to establish the paper, we
chose the extracurricular route for a couple of reasons. Essentially, speed
and freedom. Events and situations dictated that we publish a paper quickly
and with as little interference from administration as possible. We recruited
a faculty advisor and established a "journalism club." Our volunteer
staff enrolled in the local adult school printing class, which gave us
access to composing and printing equipment. At the end of the academic
year, we had a choice to make: Continue as before, or petition the administration
to establish a journalism class. The debate between staff was lively. As
a "journalism club," we had a degree of freedom, but we were
also at a serious disadvantage.
- Producing a quality publication takes time. Despite the gratification
of our accomplishment, the task was very time consuming. Staff burnout
was a serious problem. Therefore, we finally agreed (regrettably, in my
view) to petition for a class. Our efforts had attracted some serious attention
from the administration, and, with uncharacteristic speed, a class was
formed and an instructor hired. Most of the original staff declined to
- I reluctantly enrolled in the class, and my worst fears were quickly
confirmed. I should note here that the instructor chosen for the journalism
class was not our original advisor (full-time English instructor). Administration
chose to hire a new part-time faculty member (who just happened to be the
wife of a full-time instructor). In my opinion, her academic qualifications
were dubious, and her practical knowledge minimal. I dropped the class
before the second meeting.
- I'm making a wild assumption here, but it seems that the paper is in
a similar situation at the moment.
- For more student opinions, return to OPIONIONS
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Last Update: 13/8/98