Editors scuffle with officials over distribution bins

NEW YORK — Citing ‘aesthetic reasons,’ administrators at the CityUniversity of New York’s Graduate Center removed distribution bins forthe school’s student newspaper and replaced them with two much smallerracks — a move that editors say seriously hampers their distribution efforts.

Editor Mark Petras said the old bins held up to 300 copies ofTheAdvocate, but now his staff can only distribute around 60 issues ata time in the plastic racks that appeared in April in the lobby of theschool’s nine-story building, which is the paper’s main distribution site.

“If our distribution in the lobby is stopped, it really cuts off circulationto the whole building and the whole school,” Petras said.

School officials have designated a shelf, the bottom of six on the rack,as the one on which the papers are to be placed. Petras said that on manyoccasions, even those copies of the paper were removed and replaced withother university publications, as they were during the week of convocationwhen the school received a large number of visitors.

When Petras went to administrators with his concerns about the racks,they refused to return the old bins to the lobby. To alleviate the problemthat only a small number of papers could be placed on the rack, they suggestedthat Petras let the building’s security officers in the lobby be responsiblefor replenishing the supply of papers on the shelves.

Petras found this suggestion unacceptable, telling officials that “incorporatingnon-students into the distribution of The Advocate can do nothingbut compromise its mission.”

He said he thinks the true motivation behind the distribution struggleis the paper’s criticism of the administration.

“I’ve always believed that the administration looked down on the paper,”Petras said. “Although they’ll never come out and say it. They’ll justimpose these seemingly benign policies to hinder the paper.”

Steven Gorelick, chief of staff in the office of the school’s president,declined to comment, but said in a letter to Petras in May that the universityhas not impeded distribution of The Advocate.

Petras disagrees, claiming the university’s actions constitute an impositionof an unreasonable restriction on the time, place and manner of distribution.

He is now awaiting a reply to a letter of response sent to Gorelickin July, in which Petras again asked to either have the paper’s old binsreturned to the lobby or be provided a new rack exclusively for TheAdvocate.