Protest and Oppose Censorship of the Record

Protest and Oppose Censorship of the Record

To the Antioch Community:

As adjunct faculty serving as a mentor to students on the Antioch Record staff, I protest and oppose the Lawry administration’s censorship of the Record. I am advising the students to resist all censorship and intimidation.. And I urge members of the Antioch community to support the Record in affirmation of freedom of speech.

Censorship is — of course — grossly unacceptable. It is unethical and immoral. Censorship, or any infringement of people’s rights of free discussion, free expression and free inquiry, violates the most basic values of democracy and community, not to mention liberal arts education.

That students at Antioch College are denied free speech is shocking and absurd.

Censorship of the Record began with its September 22 issue. In a letter to the faculty dated September 20, college president Steve Lawry announced that the dean of faculty, Andrzej Bloch, had been empowered to censor the Record, and that a new board would soon be appointed to “take overall responsibility for the Record.?

In an attempt to justify its censorship of the Record, the administration has made false and inflammatory statements. A letter sent September 18 to faculty and staff, signed by three administrators (Lawry, Bloch, and Rick Jurasek), characterized a feature in the Record (“Question of the Week?) that was clearly satirical — and clearly protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech — as “a crime? that put the Record in “high-risk legal territory.?

This is not true. As a newspaper editor and publisher for 33 years, I can assure the community there is no way that the Record, or any other newspaper in America, would be at legal risk for printing this material. (Record staff confirmed this in a consultation with the Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C.)

Not true, also, is the charge made by Lawry, in his September 20 letter, that the Record’s “generally poor editorial judgments? and “the persistent presence of anti-social and aggressive speech and prolific use of obscenitites? in the Record “systematically degrade and dishonor? Antioch College.

It is not the Record, but the administration’s censorship of the Record — its denial of basic rights of freedom of speech to members of the Antioch community — that degrades and dishonors Antioch College.

The Record is an essential part of the Antioch community. It is rooted in the values of the community, and it speaks in the voice — or the many voices — of the community. It’s a good newspaper. Despite deep cuts in the Record’s funding, the editors have assembled a large staff of talented, enthusiastic, hard-working students. They have provided the community with a diverse mix of interesting, lively, well-written news and opinion.

Last week’s “retro? issue of the Record, full of articles and pictures the staff selected from Records published down through the years, brilliantly illuminated Antioch’s long and passionate commitment to the struggle for human rights, social justice, and freedom of expression. And fun — the Record brightly illuminated Antioch’s bold, free spirit.

The Record, far from dishonoring Antioch College, honors Antioch in the most essential, meaningful way — by expressing, and embodying, Antioch’s spirit. At the heart of Antioch is the free spirit of Antioch, and all attempts to suppress it must be opposed.

Sincerely,

— Don Wallis

Bringing Censor Back!

Record awaiting installation of new Editorial Board

by Kim-Jenna Jurriaans

Awaiting ComCil’s vote on last week’s proposal concerning the installation of an editorial board for the Antioch Record, hopes persist that this week’s ComCil meeting will bring more clarity about the future outline for the community’s newspaper. The board, if approved, will function interim for the fall term 2006 only, until a permanent board is established by the beginning of spring term 2007.

Dean of Faculty Andrzej Bloch, Vice President Rick Jurasek, and Community manager Levi B. Cowperthwaite, in reaction to recent controversy over student’s answers to “the Question of the Week?, in the September 15 issue of The Record, brought the proposal to ComCil last week. According to a memo sent by President Lawry to advisers and staff on September 18, several resonses to the question “What would you say to the Narc?” were seen by the College’s Lawyer as “high-threat messages” entering “high-risk legal territory”, thereby putting Antioch in danger of liability charges being pressed against the College. This, in combination with strong feelings within the administration that The Record is missing a clearly defined editorial policy, led to discussions about, and eventually putting down on paper of an outline for a new, empowered board to take responsibility for the Record’s content.

REB vs. RAB
The proposal, sent in to ComCil last Thursday, foresees in the installation of a Record Editorial Board (REB) to set out and enforce editorial policy, to be carried out by The Record’s editors. In doing so, the new Editorial Board would take on the role of the little, but more powerful, brother of the existing Record Advisory Board (RAB), which has been functioning as the main source of advice to editors and staff in previous years. So far, the existing Record Advisory Board only had the power to advice on editorial policy, without having the authority to enforce it. The new board, which would not replace but function in addition to RAB, would cover this authority-gap, in favor of more structured, institutional, control over printed content.
When asked about the reasons for installing the new board, Andrzej Bloch answered: ” It is our job to represent the interests of the school as an institution. Everything that is printed in the Record has the Antioch name on it and it reflects the school as an institution. The same applies if a faculty member would do something outrageous in class. The question is always, how do you balance academic freedom with respect of the institution.”

Educational value

In another memo, sent to the college faculty two days after his first testimony of concern about the content of this newspaper, President Lawry urges faculty to “be supportive and responsive” to requests to join the editorial board. In the memo, forwarded to the Record by various members of faculty, Lawry states that: “The college is the owner and publisher of The Record, which functions as part of the College’s educational mission. As an educational institution, we are responsible for the ethical and educational development of young people. Too much of the content of The Record suggests to me that we are failing in that mission.”

It is precisely this educational development, which the president urges so strongly, that others fear will be the first victim of the new policy. Community manager Levi B on ComCil concerns to the proposal: “There are several parts of the proposal that ComCil isn’t happy with. For example, why have two boards? Why put energy into this reactionary ad hoc board instead of investing in the old one? But there’s also the educational side. Part of education is taking risks. Taking away that option is taking away part of the educational value.”

According to Levi B, the CM, the number of seats on the board and the way they are filled is also an issue that worries ComCil. The proposal mentions the board as consisting of 4 members, 2 members of faculty and two students, who will be appointed collaboratively by the College President and the Community Manager. The latter mentions ComCil’s view that this board is not representative of the community.

Continuity

One major problem that RAB seems to have been struggling with in the past is continuity. Finding former editors to take a seat in the Advisory Board, for example, has been difficult at times. Introducing a system of stacked appointment in the board is one of the goals Andrzej Bloch sees for REB. The interim editorial board doesn’t solve the problem of continuity; it merely bridges the gap until negotiations over the form and authority of a permanent Editorial Board have finished. The administration sees a permanent Editorial Board as the best means to guarantee continuity and future implementation of the new editorial guidelines that will be set out by the interim board this term. So far, a lot of questions about the approach that the interim board will handle and what the permanent board will eventually look like, remain up in the air. Hopes are that a decision on the interim board proposal will be announced in this weeks ComCil meeting, with or without amendments.

Where it started

Back to the roots

Going back to what has started the argument about “bad editorial judgment” and the need for a cleaner editorial policy, the administration’s reaction to the comments printed in the September 15 issue of the Record managed to surprised many on and off campus, including faculty and people from the Yellow Springs community. And for many, it is seen as an example for the iron wind of change that seems to be blown thru the Antioch campus recently, to radically clean up whatever leaves of campus culture are still left lying in the grass, that characterize a college identity that doesn’t fit into the vision of the clean cut suburbia lawn that is set out for it.

Reports of students being called into the Dean of Faculty’s office, Memo’s to student advisers, urging them to meet with their advisees to denounce “hostile street-language” and “menacing speech”, in addition to the need for a midnight proof-read of a recent issue of the Record to protect it from further repercussions, are widely perceived as ways of intimidation and signs of an institutional tour de force to streamline the college.

Jen Parnell, who’s comment was found to be most damaging by the College’s lawyer, was called into the Dean of faculty’s office to discuss the possible consequences of her comment. “I was told that my statement was found prosecutable and felonious by the college lawyer and if the ‘Narc’ would feel offended, he could press charges. I had been in contact with my lawyer, who told me that since there is no clear and present danger to specifically named person, there is no liability. Andrzej insisted that that wasn’t true and that I had to watch what I say.” Denouncing rumors around campus, Andrzej Bloch made it clear to he Record, that “Jen’s comments were never and will not be a reason to expel her from school.”

Phone calls to the Civil Liberties Union, as well as attorney Mike Hiestand, legal consultant for the Student Press Association, also point towards the absence of liability in Jen Parnell’s specific case. Mike Hiestand: “even if the ‘Narc’ would make himself known and claim to be offended, that is his problem, not the student’s. There is no liability here.” This stands in strong contrast to the college’s legal council, that, according to the September 18 memo, said “these responses clearly signal that an unnamed person has cause to fear serious physical harm. This is intolerable as it is illegal.”

Since the school is a private institution, the 1st amendment, which prohibits censorship by government officials doesn’t apply. Actions to prevent certain material from being printed are therefore left to the discretion of the college. “Even so,” Hiestand continues,” Although actions against a student or the student paper would in this case not be illegal, it is still highly out of proportion.”

In an issue of the Record, printed in June of this year, last term’s editor William Parke-Sutherland was already voicing his concern about what he called efforts to censor the Antioch Record, calling it “a path down which I refuse to walk.”

Unclear

An interesting point of attention will also be the choice of sources that the interim board will turn to for information to base the new editorial policy upon. Levi B: “I don’t know the specifics yet, but I say we will look at Internal policy, the Honor Code, the Civil Liberties Code and advice from lawyers. The idea is that the board sets editorial policy to create a relationship of trust. It will not have hiring and firing power.”

Although they both tabled the proposal for the interim board, when it comes down to the appointment and position of the permanent REB in the community, the Dean of faculty’s view seems to be different from that of the Community manager. In answer to the question what procedure will be followed to install the new permanent board, Levi B. says: “My understanding is that it goes thru Comcil and that a rewriting of the legislative code is necessary. That means there has to be a two third majority in two different terms before it can get installed.” Contrary to CG’s views, Dean of Faculty Andrzej Bloch says he does not see the need to write the new Permanent board into the College leg-code: “Actually, I see this as business for AdCil rather than Comcil. The suggestions for appointments should be made by AdCil, with final appointment by the president.” Community manager Levi B.: “The Record comes out of activity fees, not part of the annual operating budget. Appointments don’t represent the community ownership. “Installing the interim board for this semester only requires temporary suspension of the code, which can be done with a majority vote. Following regular procedure, the permanent board should have to go thru a tougher procedure in order for REB to be written into the Leg-code. Whether a proposal for the permanent board will be presented to ComCil or not will likely be the result of discussion between the Community manager, the Dean of Faculty and the office of the President. This and other issues, including whether REB will have hiring and firing power over The Records editors need to be resolved within the course of this term.

Dispatches from Community Meeting

By Kathryn Leahey 

The term’s second regularly scheduled community meeting proved to be less exciting than the first. To begin, Beth Jones and Meredith Root (or Be-Root, collectively), the masterminds behind the Womyn’s Center, were named Community Members of the Week. A string of thankfulness involving organized events then ensued. Hope thanked Robin for providing the meeting with refreshments, and Ivan Dihoff thanked all those who had attended the previous emergency community meeting, the organization of which prompted Amanda to offer her gratitude to Levi. Caitlin thanked Jimmy Williams for the Constitution Day festivities while Kaleigh lauded Melody for the Shabbat and workshop she organized this past weekend. CG as a whole was also recognized for bringing Swan Island to campus. Chelsea and Jenna both thanked the women’s rugby team as well as the Cincinnati Women’s Rugby Team. Jenna also extended her thanks to her friends for their assistance during her period of limited mobility. Finally, Luke thanked all Record readers who complimented the first issue of the term.

When the entire community’s gratitude was exhausted, we proceeded with the candidate’s forum. Six students have decided to run for ComCil, while only four students and one faculty member are making an attempt to be elected to AdCil. Those running for ComCil are nearly all third-years and seem to be overwhelmingly female. Brian Utley, the sole second- year male candidate, made it known that he feels his minority opinion would be an asset to the council. Others’ reasons for running differed. Nicole wanted to make sure that campus voices continue to be heard during the changes that are occurring at Antioch, and Meghan Pergram felt as though her thorough understanding of the Leg Code would be an asset. Chelsea Martens and Julie Phillips both cited their previous community involvement as a reason for electing them while Sarah Buckingham banked on her sheer love for Antioch. Questioning began, and we discovered that, although all of the candidates are already exceedingly busy, they all believe that will have ample time to fulfill their ComCil duties if elected. When asked about specific policies, Meghan referenced a long-term guest policy that she would like to see devised and Brian mentioned an idea to support low-income students throughout the registration process, although exactly what he went by that was not made clear. Most candidates were found to have ideas for making meetings more efficient. Brian announced that he was a trained meeting facilitator while others presented ideas about preparation, redirection, and sub-committee use. Meghan, however, felt as though long conversations are often very useful. Chelsea and Meghan also both gave some ideas for strengthening the council’s presence on campus and its standing with the administration which centered around assuring timely progress.

Finally the interrogation of the prospective ComCil members ended and future AdCil members were up to bat. Hassan Rahmanian., the only faculty member who came forth, has been on AdCil for 10 years, but this is his first instance of running on the community side. Two prospective council members, Erin Winter and Ryan Boasi, decided on the spot to run. Both cited frustration with the state of the school as the reason for their decisions. Erin is also, apparently, a morning person, a statement that cannot be truthfully made about most college students. Corri Frohlich, another candidate, is trying to make the big move between ComCil and AdCil. Chris McKinless, the final student hopeful, is most concerned about AdCil’s advisory board status, a concern that he say is his reason for running. When asked by Caitlin how he plans to handle that concern, he mentioned “creative methods?, although he didn’t explain what he meant by that. Ryan and Erin responded to the question by saying that AdCil needs to improve the student body’s relationship with the administration by acting in a strong but respectful manner. However, Corri, as opposed to Chris, sees nothing wrong with AdCil’s status as an advisory board. Although some of the questioning by the community devolved into statements rather than inquiries, Amanda’s question about AdCil taking action had all five candidates poised to show their passion for actually getting things done.

Many of the announcements made after the candidates’ forum involved help being requested in one form or another. The Phone-a-thon still needs workers, as does the Coretta Scott King Center, Events, and the Tecumseh Land Trust. Volunteers were called for by Jelesia for Make-A-Difference day as well as the CG office, the community garden to build a scarecrow on Saturday, and the SOPP office for a poster campaign. Despite all the help that is apparently needed, only one organization asked for any money. One hundred dollars was requested for the Queers Only Party on Friday, about which we were told to “be there or be straight.? The Womyn’s Center is holding an event entitled “Love Your Body Night? on the 29th and a Planned Parenthood Potluck on October 6th. Everyone should also check posts around campus about upcoming Wellness Center activities.

The most anticipated part of the meeting, clarification from Robin Heise, shared little new information and left some with a bad taste in their mouths. Robin read from a statement that she had posted to First Class, reinforcing basic ideas repeatedly. John Minter apologized for any misinformation that he may have taken part in, and Meghan thanked him on behalf of all of the students for being so available; Robin followed up his statement by saying that John had not been working in financial aid long enough to truly understand it. The statement was likely well-intended, although some felt as though Robin was more chastising John than coming to his aid. After the financial aid talk, Melody led a brief party etiquette refresher course. The wisdom imparted? 1) Don’t break anything! 2) Clean up after yourselves! 3) The SOPP still applies, even if you are drunk.

The final major topic brought up at Pulse was a discussion over the appropriateness of last week’s Question of the Week. Most saw no harm in the topic, although some felt that it was possibly exacerbating a standing problem. The misunderstanding related to the Record feature was determined to be due to the difficulty of judging a person’s tone in print without the use of the dreaded emoticon. Noam Chomsky and Voltaire were quoted and ideas about personal rights and discretion were discussed, but no real conclusion was reached except that the article was provocative. Tune in next week for more information about union workers on campus having to submit to drug testing.

From The Editors

Luke BrennanConcerning the first year with the loose lips or the sticky wire…
I am ashamed, and deeply troubled by these events. This is not the Antioch that I know, love, and respect. The events of above are not that actions of a community that has devoted itself to peace and social justice. We claim to be change agents……well, one cannot be effective by engaging in destructive and nasty behavior. This is violence….and we cannot support this. Antioch is in the midst of change…we all know this…we also know that not everyone is on board with the changes….and this is okay…change is hard, and almost nobody likes change, but if you don’t like the changes, protest them in acceptable ways. Let us not become a community that operates in darkness. This has always been a place were people could be open with their viewpoints. Let us continue to be.
– Luke
P.S. Thanks B.P. you said it better than I could have.
P.P.S. Big ups to Burritodemuerto, you’re a genius.

Foster Neill

Dear Community,
Thank you for and welcome to the first Antioch Record of Fall 2006. Everything in this issue is the product of dedication. I cannot express my gratitude to everyone for this great start. Both Luke and I are extremely happy with the content in this issue. We actually had too much content, all of which deserved its own spotlight.
A few things I am especially pleased with:
Morgan’s photo in Question of the Week. I worked hard to make it look like that, and damn, it looks good.
Kari’s photos – They were perfect. The right size, beautiful, on time. Everything is perfect with them.
All our staff for submitting their assignments on time. They are all great.
Also, I would like to thank everyone who stopped in to the Record office. Please keep coming by.
The next issue should be at least as good as this one.
A plea: Please actually read the articles in this. Our staff worked hard on them with little time to find the facts. If you read something you like, the next time you see the writer, shake their hand or something. Tell them they did a good job.
Think you can come up with a better Question of the Week than the Record or Morgan? We dare you.
Also, if you hate something in the Record, say nothing. We don’t want to hear it.
Until next time,
Foster Neill
Layout Editor