Sat04042020

Last updateThu, 02 Apr 2020 1pm

Opinion

The One Public Response to Censorship on Campus

default article imageI am writing this note to the editors as the Chair of the Department of Communication. I want to apologize to the editors and the staff of the newspaper for their disappointment over the lack of reaction to the newspapers that were taken from the newsstand in the Student Center. When the incident occurred, I did verbalize my support and willingness to aid the staff and editors in whatever way they wanted to move forward with investigating the incident. However, I should have put that support in writing, in-print, in the school’s newspaper.  So, this letter serves to do that and to also explain to the staff and editors that my experience as an Alum of Monmouth College; as a former writer and editor for The Outlook; as a faculty member and now as the Chair of the Department of Communication makes incidents like this deeply disturbing.

A free press, without censorship is the lifeblood of any community, or any university. The Outlook has a long history of covering topics that impact not only its core community - Monmouth students - but also everyone else connected to the University. Sadly, this is not the first time that unknown, or known,  perpetrator(s) on-campus have decided that they would serve as de-facto editors and/or censors and remove The Outlook from areas where the paper might be accessible to visitors or potential new students. In fact, I have been told by several former students that before The Outlook is added to goodie bags for Accepted Students at Monmouth Day, the paper is vetted for any content deemed negative to the University. And if a story is deemed negative, the paper is declared unsuitable for accepted students. The likelihood that a student would initiate this is remote, which would leave staff, faculty or administrators as the most likely perpetrators for this behavior.

This lack of response or acknowledgement to an overt act of censorship is sadly not shocking to me. It is unfortunately a missed educational opportunity to discuss and issue that was often and openly discussed on the Monmouth College campus when I was student. Old copies of The Outlook that I have in my office have numerous responses to articles and opinions from university staff, administrators and faculty, addressing campus coverage, reporting and opinions. A real debate over campus censorship would likely have taken place across the pages of The Outlook from Monmouth College.  Back then, everything from staff overtime, Feminism, and HIV/Aids, virtually any topic would openly be discussed in the pages of the paper. The campus community as a whole was willing to debate, discuss and search for common ground on matters that impacted the whole community.

Sadly, I doubt that the perpetrator(s) of this most recent effort of censorship will have the wherewithal to come forward and identify themselves or their motives, discussing why they felt that particular edition of The Outlook was so egregious that the University should not read any material within its pages. An opportunity to have a real discussion about the matter has apparently been lost forever. And those discussions matter!

While censorship of an important campus voice (let’s call it what it is) to me is appalling, zero response to the issue is also tragic. A community without open-lines of communication is not a functioning community, which is particularly disappointing on a University campus. The strength of the communication between multiple viewpoints is what builds a healthy and high functioning relationship and community.

In closing, I have apologized here in this article and I would hope that the perpetrator(s) of the removal of The Outlook would at least acknowledge the students’ concerns and be open to dialogue that would assist in strengthening community life at Monmouth University. I am disappointed that papers were stolen from a newsstand in an effort to keep information from the campus community and I am equally dismayed that no one really saw fit to support the student media and the First Amendment publically.

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University

Contact Information

CAMPUS LOCATION
The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

MAILING ADDRESS
The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey
07764

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu