It was a dark week for student rights, the School of Communications and Quinnipiac University.
While suppressing media freedoms at any university is terrible, not allowing the students at Quinnipiac to practice them is far worse.
As a Chronicle alumnus, I was saddened, shocked and outraged to read President John Lahey’s comments in last week’s edition of The Chronicle. It’s an atrocity for a university that offers such a strong communications program, influential polling institution and bestows numerous First Amendment awards to restrict its students from operating a free and open press.
The Chronicle reported that President Lahey told the school’s Student Government Association, “So I guess the challenge for us now is how in today’s world we can really have a good discussion with the students about important topics, but not have it be a press conference to the world, where I have absolutely no control.”
For a president that has successfully made this Hamden center of higher learning one of the most wired and technologically advanced campuses in the country, he seems depressingly ignorant of the impact of technology. Yes, items that were once seen by a few dozen, hundred or thousand eyes have the potential to be seen by millions, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.
The problem, as President Lahey alleges, is not with The Chronicle, Q30 or WQAQ, but rather with him. However, there is one place I do agree with the president.
“The student newspaper is for students. It should come out when it normally comes out,” he said.
Media outlets, professional and student, around the world are adapting to the latest technologies of the day. That means the Internet. If students are not permitted to utilize them, Quinnipiac University is failing them and putting them at a grave disadvantage to students at other schools around the world. The campus media at Quinnipiac should not only have the right, but the responsibility, to report to the students, faculty, staff and alumni the current happenings on campus as they happen- both online in addition to in print. The Chronicle ought to be congratulated for attracting the attention of the outside media, not scolded.
It is difficult for me to imagine how President Lahey could have done a worse job of handling this semester’s racial attacks. It is quite obvious that this whole issue is not about student media at all but rather The Chronicle’s staff succeeding in what Lahey’s faculty taught them to do: Dig deep and report what they uncover.
If the president cannot trust what he says at open functions or does behind closed doors, perhaps the university needs to replace him?