By choosing to go to a private university, students give up some of their rights our peers at public colleges and universities may have. For example, students do not have the right to privacy if Public Safety needs to search their rooms for drugs or alcohol.
“The University, its officers, employees and agents have the right to enter an assigned room,” the student handbook says. “With or without notice for the purpose of inspection and repair, preservation of health, safety, quietude, recovery of University-owned property and/or for suspected policy violations.”
This makes sense because it is both a legal and safety issue. Students are living on private university property and the university has the right to enforce the law by ensuring underage students do not possess alcohol or dangerous illegal drugs.
However, this does not mean members of the university community should have the right to limit students’ freedom of speech or press.
Last Thursday, I distributed issue 19 of The Chronicle in Echlin Center. When I entered the building, I saw many families and prospective students milling around, getting ready to tour the campus. I walked down the hallway, placing the papers on tables and offering them to prospective students.
When I turned around, I noticed a student, wearing one of the blue blazers tour guides sometimes wear, picking up the newspapers I just scattered around the building. I approached her and asked if she planned to give those out to the prospective students individually.
She told me her superiors in the admissions office had asked her to pick up the papers. The admissions office did not want the tours to see the newspaper because it had the word “marijuana” on the cover, she said.
The admissions office keeps The Chronicle behind the main desk and gives the paper to prospective students if they ask for it, the student said.
A male worker came out of the office and suggested we leave the newspaper facedown, hiding the article on the university’s illegal drug policy.
When The Chronicle decided to publish the article on the university’s illegal drug policy on the cover, we were not thinking, “Let’s put this above-the-fold because it will make the university look bad.” We were thinking, “This is important information students could benefit from knowing or find interesting.”
Likewise, the admissions office probably was not thinking, “Let’s censor The Chronicle by taking away its papers,” when workers picked up the issues that day.
But it is censorship all the same.
Even though single copies of The Chronicle are free, stealing multiple copies of the newspaper is a crime (see disclaimer on page 2). This prevents students, faculty, staff and prospective students from learning what is going on in the campus community.
I understand why the admissions office does not want high school students who are considering Quinnipiac to read a headline which states marijuana is the most common drug on campus. It could taint students’ image of the university.
But it is more important for the university to provide a quality education and experience for students today, than it is to create a sugar-coated image for people who might come here more than a year from now.
One way for the university to offer a better quality of life and education for students is to promote freedom of the press for media organizations.
When The Chronicle publishes articles like the story on illegal drugs, the university should be proud that the university’s journalism program is teaching us to investigate what is really going on around campus, even if it might upset people. My journalism classes have taught me the role of the press is to inform people and be a check on the government. The role of The Chronicle is to do the same, but for the Quinnipiac community.
A high school junior or senior considering Quinnipiac’s journalism program could have looked at a copy of The Chronicle and realized the School of Communications is teaching students to be real journalists. This could have made the student want to apply here. But if the prospective student could not see the newspaper because the admissions office hid it from Echlin Center, he or she would never get the chance to see the real positive side of Quinnipiac.