by Kim-Jenna Jurriaans
“This could very well have been the best ComCil I’ve ever been to.” An impromptu processing session and cigarette consumption on the steps of Main Building revealed the nerve wrecker that was last week’s ComCil meeting. In a heated session last Thursday, discussion on the latest proposal for a Record Editorial Board (REB) turned into a power-measuring exercise that left many members of ComCil disillusioned over the outcome. Still, several members referred to last week’s ComCil as one of the most vibrant in a long time. The meeting was finally adjourned and discussion was tabled until next ComCil, which takes place as this paper goes to print.
Members left last week’s meeting disillusioned after a two and a half hour discussion on the REB proposal, that was brought to ComCil two weeks ago, failed to bring a clear outcome on the installation of the interim board. Instead, questions arose on ComCil’s power to block the proposal, which were initially met with evasive answers by vice-president Rick Juraseck and Dean of Faculty Andrzej Bloch.
Bloch, who together with the vice-president and CM Levi B. Cowperthwaite had brought the proposal to ComCil, stressed the need for accountability beyond RAB in the form of an extra, editorial, board.
In response to Events Manager (EM) Melody Mackowiak’s repeated inquiry whether the initiators would go thru with the installation of the board regardless of ComCil’s decision on the proposal, Jurasek answered by pointing out the need to “fill an editorial gap”.
EM Melody went on to ask whether the proposal was at least open for negotiation. Vice-president Rick Jurasek commented: “This document asks for suggestions. We want to launch a process. There is an editorial gap and this proposal is brought forward to fill that gap.” Jurasek underlined that the board will be temporary while “starting a broader conversation in the process of building a community paper”.
In its effort to “build” a community paper, the president’s office has taken it on itself to hire a journalism teacher in order to provide staff-writers and editors of the Record with the necessary journalistic background and to help in supervising the Record. In addition, Jurasek offered to provide the Record with the means to update its close to nostalgic IT-facilities, which, according to co-editor Foster Neill had narrowed down to “a computer and a half” in the course of last week. Neill, however, friendly declined the offer, stating he’d rather work with the limited funds CG can provide than lose independence of the paper: “I’d love to have a new computer and we could definitely use it right now, but if taking on the offer means the Record will become more dependent, I’d rather not have it. I can’t speak for future editors, but I, for my part, will definitely not take it.”
Issues over the nature of the publisher, CG or Antioch College, arose, yet again, and remained unresolved. Again, the fact that the Record is payed out of student activity fees was brought up to point out community ownership. The Dean of students countered by saying: “We cannot collect a penny of the students as long as the budget is not approved by the board of trustees.” In response to Andrzej Bloch’s statement that the newspaper carries the Antioch name and is therefor regarded by the outside world to reflect the College, Neill, who is in charge of the layout for the Record, posed the question how The Antioch Review, that also carries the Antioch name can be regarded as reflection of the community.
Andrzej Bloch went on to make a distinction between Antioch College on one hand, and the College Community on the other. He elaborated on his idea of REB and RAB functioning next to and with each other, each representing one of the two entities. Given the inequality in authority installed upon both boards, however, this was met with skepticism by the members of ComCil, who fear erosion of the functions of RAB. In addition, the idea of having two similar boards was widely seen as impractical, “adding layers on top of layers”, as Katrina Dorsey described it.
In light of the efforts to bring more journalistic knowledge into the record newsroom, the need for top-down editorial enforcement was also questioned and, according to Bob Devine, is contrary to the co-op premises set out for the editors, which consist of “learning by experience, being forced to wrestle with complex practical and ethical issues and to make determinations for which they must be accountable.” (from: October 2nd written reaction to REB proposal). Devine underlined his views in last week’s meeting, stating that the Record was a lab Newspaper to learn, adding: “how do you think the editor of the New York Times learned what is appropriate.”
Gradually the conversation moved towards reviving RAB rather than installing the REB. ComCil member Chelsea Martens pointed towards the Legislative code in front of her and urged the Dean of Faculty and Vice-President to please respect the code, with its strong roots in Community Government, and to respect the efforts that had been made to create it. Martens was backed up by fellow ComCil member Bryan Utley, who underlined that the installation of an ad-hoc board without approval of ComCil would be disrespectful of the deliberative Body that is ComCil. Martens also raised questions on the issue of accountability. More specifically, “how can a board consisting of two students and two staff members be a better representation of the community than RAB with seven members and direct accountability to ComCil?”
In order to provide Antioch College, as institution, with the requested representation in matters concerning the Record, RAB members present brought forward the proposal to write one or two extra seats into the RAB outline in the Leg code for institutional representation to take seat in.
Room temperature rose even more, when a motion to deny approval of the Proposal was tabled and second by another member of ComCil, then however taken off the table again, in order to keep open the option of bringing in an amended, more detailed, proposal into next weeks ComCil meeting. the initiators where give the advise to consult sources outside of the college’s legal council and present a proposal that goes into more detail about the editorial policy that the interim board is burdened to establish, the sources that it will used in the process and the place and amenability of this new policy in future terms. As the discussion goes into yet another round, the meeting, taking place as this edition goes to print, is expected to bring the awaited verdict on the installation of an Editorial Board for the Record, the consequences for the Community’s Newspaper and future role for its current Advisory Board.