Student editors resign following criticism of content

Student journalists at two universities resigned their editorpositions this fall because they said administrators bullied them and theirstaffs by criticizing content and, in one case, threatening budgetcuts.Nick Will, editor in chief of Harvard University businessschool’s newspaper, The Harbus, resigned his post in November afteradministrators threatened to hold him personally accountable for future contentthat they found offensive. He also was threatened with possible disciplinarymarks on his college record.Administrators were reportedly upset byeditorial cartoon in the Oct. 28 edition that made light of Harvard’sCareer Link Program. The program was suppose to allow MBA students to schedulejob interviews with businesses recruiting on campus, but it was “plaguedwith technical problems.” The cartoon depicted a computer monitor overrunwith error messages. Administrators took offense to one message in particular, “incompetent morons,” which they said was a personal attack on career services employees and a violation of the community standards code.Will was called into a meetingwith administrators in November and verbally warned of the violation, accordingto a Nov. 14 article in The Record, Harvard Law School’s studentnewspaper. A verbal warning is considered the first-step in the disciplinaryprocess.Administrators also told him to portray Career Services in agood light in future articles.“To avoid being called in again I wastold I would have to steer clear of all questionable content, Will said in aHarbus article. He resigned citing “personal intimidation andthreats” by Harvard officials. “The level of personal riskis too high. I’m very sad about it but I can’t take the risk ofhaving every word screened by the administration,” he said.Willdid not respond to interview requests, but administrators responded to theresignation with a memo that stated the school is committed to free expressionand inquiry. Business school dean Kim Clark said in the memo that he was“saddened” by Will’s resignation.”Five studenteditors at Utica College of Syracuse University in New York announcedthey were resigning their posts in November in protest of administrators’objections to content and funding of The Tangerine. “We allresigned because of the conditions we were forced to work under,” saidLaurent L. Lawrence, editor in chief. The editors say the breaking pointwas a letter to the editor written by Ken Kelly, dean of students, criticizingnewspaper staff members that wrote several investigative articles about thecollege. Kelly also claimed one factual error among thestories.“One or several deceptive articles can taint an entireissue and I encourage the editors to ensure that the good work of our manystudent journalists is not undermined by association with the deception of afew,” Kelly said in his letter.Lawrence contends that theadministrators do not respect the students for their role asjournalists.“The administration tells the writing staff that theydon’t have time [when they ask for interviews],” Lawrence said.“All around it’s a whole process of mistreatment. We’reworking with bare minimum.”The Tangerine was faced with onebudget cut during the past year worsening their working conditions, andadministrators recently proposed another budget cut that could severely limitthe newspaper’s production, said Kim Landon, adviser.Lawrence saidthe 30-year-old newsroom has only two computers for 25 writers, and thissemester, the staff members have gone through threemonitors.Administrators have not reacted to the editor’sresignations, but staff of The Tangerine hope to meet withadministrators in an attempt to reach a resolution or compromise, Lawrencesaid.“I don’t think anyone on the staff wants to abandon thepaper or see it go away,” Lawrence said. “I think it’s in thebest interest of whoever takes over the paper that they get the respect theydeserve.”