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Author Topic: college paper censorship
lilmsirishrage
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I know I've complained plenty about the catholic university I go to, but this seems even more annoying than usual...

Get this: they want to make an ethics board made up of professors or other faculty that would review our student newspaper publication before printing (among other things). Why? One main reasoning they gave: people complained about our series on sexual assault on college campuses.

Is giving the facts on assault, something important to know about (considering it happens to 1 in 4 college students, or something like that), really that offensive? Is it because it has the word "sex" in it? I am honestly confused by how it's offensive. I can understand that it may be upsetting to someone who has experienced it, but isn't it important to make sure people know what to do if it happens to them?

I know that they have the right to do this, since we rent space from the school. I'm just trying to figure out their reasoning.


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emsily0
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i'm the editor of my school's paper, and i know we work really hard to make sure we have total editorial freedom. granted, my school is very liberal so that's been pretty easy for the most part, but it's definitely something we think about a lot.

we don't get any money from the school, for example. i don't think we pay to rent our space, though, but if we had to we would.

i don't think it's right, what your school is trying to do. being in the "watchdog" role is one of the most important thing newspapers do. if i were you, i would think really hard about renegotiating your terms with the school to avoid this if you can.

a lot of times schools - not just catholic schools, although it unfortunately seems more common - try to keep the ugly stuff hushed up. i'm not sure it has to do with the word sex - just that bad stuff is happening on campus, and they don't want to talk about it.

em

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Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk - real straight talk about souls - for life is holy and every moment is precious. I heard the Denver and Rio Grande locamotive howling off in the mountains. I wanted to pursue my star further. -Kerouac


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Dzuunmod
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Mind if I ask what paper/school you're at, em?

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emsily0
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not at all. colby college, our paper is called the echo. that link might be outdated because our webmaster is unpaid and lazy, but we publish weekly.

i'm not the official editor in chief until next year. but i've been doing most of the work lately.

i always forget you're the journalism guy, dzuun.:-)

em


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ChitarraRegazza
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Hmm...
Do you think it's possible that people think that there isn't a problem with sexual assault at your school, and they feel that it's casting your school in an undeserved negative light? It sounds like the article was about the problem in general (and obviously I have no idea what the situation is at your school), but some people might take it that way.

Not that that's especially logical, but hey.


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lilmsirishrage
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Yeah, could be. The thing is, a lot of it was focused on Boston schools in general. There was a whole section about how people aren't likely to report it to authorities on-campus here because having sex on campus (if caught, which doesn't really happen) is "unbecoming to a Boston College student." Thanks to that, people won't report that they were assaulted. That was the point of one of the articles, though most of them talked about issues at Harvard, MIT, BU, everywhere.
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KittenGoddess
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Another thing to consider is how news stories like that make the college look in terms of crime.

I know it sounds stupid, but there are a million ways for campuses to make their "on campus crime" statistics lower than they really are. It's not right or moral to fudge statistics like that, but alot of institutions do through a variety of means. So it's entirely possible that the university isn't too excited about your publicizing what is happening in terms of sexual assault because it makes them look bad to prospective students and their parents.

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BruinDan
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quote:
Originally posted by KittenGoddess:
It's not right or moral to fudge statistics like that, but alot of institutions do through a variety of means.

And for what it's worth, a lot of cities, counties, and states do that as well. It's as common as it is insidious.

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emsily0
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http://www.boston.com/dailynews/343/region/Salem_principal_delays_publica:.shtml

a similar case, at a massachusetts high school.

it doesn't really have to do with sexuality, but i thought you might find it interesting. this stuff happens a lot.

em


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lilmsirishrage
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I hear about this stuff with high school papers a lot. It seems really unfair that they'd ban that one in Salem just because the students disagree with policy. As bad as that stuff is, I figured in college people would be given a little more leeway.

The extremely bigoted right-wing paper (and I am NOT just biased by my liberal views) seems to have no problems with the administration, simply because they claim to "adhere to the magisterium of the Catholic church." As if that's an excuse to allow a gay and minority bashing paper...

On a happier side note, the paper I've been mentioning, a supposedly liberal one, had printed at least 3-4 very biased, pro-life articles. We finally got a pro-choice response published, and it is awesome. I know it'll get attacked by a gazillion people, but at least they finally published something pro-choice.


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Dzuunmod
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So, are you sure that the only connection between the paper and the admin is that the admin rents the paper space on campus? Because that's really the crucial element right there, I think.

If the paper is basically just a tenant, then it has every right to do what it wants, regardless of what the admin says. But, of course, the admin could kick the paper out next time the lease is up for renewal...

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"Like a bat out of hell, time has come for you!"
-Ballad of a Comeback Kid, The New Pornographers


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emsily0
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dzuun is right -- finding out exactly the agreement you have with your college is key. do you have a friendly advisor? or failing that, someone outside the school who knows about journalism and could help you out, like an alum or something? sometimes it helps to have people like that to figure out what's up.

em

ps do you go to BC? because i live a hop, skip and a jump down the road from there!


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Milke
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Is the problem here really related to anyone's politics, or simply that someone's trying to withhold factual information? As KittenGoddess and BruinDan have said, shaping information and figures to fit various purposes is pretty common, but that in itself really isn't the sole domain of any group.

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