With its legendary football and basketball teams struggling, the hottest ticket in South Bend this year might be to the meetings between the Observer, Notre Dame’s student newspaper, and university officials.
This after the Observer defied a university order and published an advertisement from a gay student group in its Nov. 19 issue.
The move may force a standoff with school officials over who has final editorial control of the publication. The newspaper bills itself as “the\nindependent newspaper” serving Notre Dame. School officials have described\nthemselves as “publisher.”
“This was not an attempt to force a confrontation but an attempt to follow our policy,” said Observer editor in chief Michelle Krupa.
In August the Observer staff received a policy from the university president’s office directing it not to publish ads from the Gay and Lesbian\nAlumni of Notre Dame’s and St. Mary’s College (GALA) or any other outside groups “that, directly or indirectly, espouse positions contrary to the moral teaching of the Catholic Church.”
Krupa says that the paper has its own policy that bars advertising that is deceptive, offensive or promotes illegal activity. She said the student editors determined that the ad, submitted by OUTreach ND, did not violate the policy and a decision was made to go ahead with publication.
The quarter page ad read: “Suicide is real. Lesbian and gay youth are at least twice as likely to attempt suicide. Not sure how to talk about this issue? Contact us. WE CARE.”
“OUTreach ND provides biweekly and confidential peer-support and monthly social activities for the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s gay-friendly community.”
The ad also included the address of the OUTreach ND Web site.
Krupa says that the university has had a long-standing agreement with the\nObserver to respect its editorial independence. The paper pays its own expenses and distributes the paper to the university community free of charge, Krupa said, although the university does collect $12 per student each year (about 15 percent of the paper’s budget) and provides the newspaper office space on campus for $1 year.
The controversy has stirred considerable debate. The school’s faculty senate recently passed a resolution supporting the Observer and Krupa says that she has been received many words of encouragement from alumni.
“We are a newspaper serving a Catholic community,” Krupa said at a student senate meeting in November, “we are not a Catholic newspaper. We do not\nhave an agenda to promote Catholic teaching. If we do promote Catholic\nteaching through stories we cover or ads we run, it is coincidental to our\nprimary obligation to report and provide information responsibly”