By Kim-Jenna Jurriaans
In a unanimous vote, ComCil on Thursday march 8th approved a new editorial policy for The Record. The two page long document is the result of five months of deliberation and revision and will open the way for the community paper to resume its operations online. Hugs, cheers and congratulations went around the room at the last ComCil meeting before the break, celebrating the approval of a new editorial policy for The Record. Only days before, the Antioch College alumni board, which gathered on campus the previous weekend for its three day spring meeting, made a symbolic statement by adopting a resolution in favor of putting The Record back online as soon as possible. The newly approved editorial policy is key in this effort of once again making the paper available outside of the Yellow Springs community.
Last term’s editors, Luke Brennan and Foster Neill, were forced to shut down The Record’s first non-PDF online edition, after receiving personally addressed letters from Antioch College president Steven Lawry who claimed copy right infringement and threatened legal action against the editors as well as alumnus and former CM Matt Baya, who altruistically had offered his free assistance in maintaining the website. After ComCil prevented the installation of an editorial board for the Record in late October of last year, the administration encumbered the existing Record advisory board (RAB) with the creation of an official document that would outline the nature and mission of the paper and the general principles that would guide current and future editors in their work. Lawry set the drafting of an acceptable editorial policy as a condition for endorsing The Record’s old web site an putting it back online, where it was previously available to co-op students and alumni alike.
March 8th’s policy is the second to be approved by ComCil. An earlier draft resulted in an deadlock between the president and RAB after Lawry made amendments to the document ComCil had endorsed – a policy based on Evergreen College’s editorial policy. RAB in turn rejected the presidential amendments and off the handle decided to trash two month of work and rather start from scratch with a new policy. Now, three month later ComCil passed the final result with an unanimous vote.
The decision, nevertheless, did not come to being without an extended procession session. ComCil member, Beth Goodney inquired about the role of Antioch’s sexual offense and racial discrimination prevention policies (SOPP and RDPP) in the presented draft and questioned the seriousness with which RAB had taken both into consideration when making the editorial policy. The room gradually divided in two camps with proponents and opponents of an explicit reference to said policies. Goodney, supported by fellow ComCil members Chelsea Martens and Rory Adams-Cheatham, pushed for some form of official reference, but mostly seemed concerned about facilitating discussion on the topic. Official reference, she said, would underline the importance of both policies in all levels of the community. Faculty ComCil member Bob Devine voiced concern about the undertone of mistrust that went out from insisting on an explicit reference like that, saying: “We have to put trust in the editors and in RAB to screen ethical editors. If the trust isn’t there, if the subtext is distrust, we are not being constructive.”
Record content editor Kari Thompson’s worries focused on a loss of independence of the paper: “I think mentioning the two policies is a bad idea. It puts the paper in some form of agency to the SOPP and it doesn’t change anything about the reality. Everybody on campus is bound by the SOPP and RDPP whether we reference it in the policy or not, but what if I want to print a critical article about the SOPP? Does it mean I can’t write something critical about the policy because our editorial policy specifically states that we are bond by the SOPP? I find that problematic.”
In an effort to end “endless processing” Niko Kowell, moved to approve with a friendly amendment added by ComCil “that RAB has serious conversations about the interactions of free speech in this document and take into consideration that every one in this community must take the RDPP and the SOPP seriously.” RAB was asked to bring back a written statement to ComCil pertaining the results of that discussion.
ComCil is expected to inform the president of the approval shortly and forward the new policy. Congratulations after the meeting overall went out to RAB chair Nina Magliocchetti, who had led the revived advisory board in the arduous job of writing dozens of drafts over the previous months.
Magliocchetti responded to the ComCil endorsement: “I am grateful for the opportunity to have played a part in coming up with this policy. Members of RAB, as well as other community members have shown such dedication to this effort, and soon we will see the results when the Record is put back online before the end of the term.”