Letter to the Editor

As newspaper advisor during the time when alleged “mismanagement” took place, I flatly deny the contention that funds were used illegitimately. It is bad enough that student government came up with this unverified charge to justify the newspaper’s request for survival funds, but now it seems the newspaper has accepted the validity of the charge.

Given the time and effort required to the work properly and the entirely sensible practice of attending the single yearly national convention of college journalists, the expenditures for those items are entirely reasonable and in keeping with policies of college newspapers across the country. This was not profligate spending, neither was there, to my knowledge, a single instance of misappropriation or misuse of funds. Meal money for simple fare (pizza, staff gathering at week’s end – all approved by administrators) provided invaluable bonding and editorial review. In short, I believe the financial conduct of the paper was exemplary.

Therefore the effort to exact “punishment” on false accusations skews the discussion from the start. I’m afraid the main participants in the dispute have far too little institutional memory to make adequate decisions. The basis of negotiation is too seriously flawed. Student government has, in my view, been unwisely and unfairly been assigned the allocation of funds to an organization whose differences from other student groups seems poorly understood and who constitute a potential pressure group that can attempt to impose censorship through budgeting. Press freedom is always fragile and the greatest threats to it on campuses are fiscal and academic. The paper has problems of its own but needs to address them within its legitimate mandate. Institutions do not generally applaud a free press in their midst so safeguards are necessary. For a newspaper to be independent within a structure of dependency is a difficult balancing act.

Kenneth A. Briggs

 

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