The IUSB Vision Weblog

The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

Montclair State University Student Newspaper Gains Independence from Student Government After Censorship Fight

Posted by iusbvision on July 29, 2008

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports:

The student government, which provides a large portion of the budget for The Montclarion, temporarily froze the newspaper’s funds last month after the paper hired a lawyer to challenge the government’s tendency to meet behind closed doors. The government later restored the funds pending mediation of the dispute. Those talks broke down this week.

All too often, a student government’s only constituents are themselves. Let’s face reality; most students get involved in student government as a way to further fluff a resume or to network and the truth is, many university administrations like it that way.

A student government that sticks up for student rights, the law, or in some cases the the university’s own rules, can find itself in battle with the administration when it acts against the law, the rules, or the best interests of students. Some administrations like to have a member of student government on certain committee’s to create the illusion of genuine student input. Student governments that do the right thing can find their budget authority threatened by the administration for example.

In this case it was the student government who took the budget away form the student newspaper because the student government had so many “closed meetings” that the student newspaper actually had to hire a lawyer to work to force the meetings open and gain access so the newspaper could do its job.

The trustees of Montclair State University, in New Jersey, have approved separating the institution’s student newspaper from the Student Government Association, the Associated Press reported. The Montclarion had received most of its budget from the government association, but now will be supported through student fees and advertising revenue.

The trustees at Montclair State did the right thing in this case and should be applauded. Hopefully, the adviser for the student government used all of his persuasive power to prevent the student government from having too many closed meetings and from attempting to censor the student paper in the first place. The student government in this case apparently deserved a good lecture about such behavior.

It either case, having the student government fund the student newspaper that covers it is a conflict of interest to say the least.

Chuck Norton

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