INDIANA ‘ A conservative magazine at Wabash College lost its funding and its standing as a recognized student organization in November after the student senate said its content was ‘ungentlemanly.’ One month later, the senate agreed to re-instate the magazine’s funding, a move which was sought by student editors and First Amendment advocates.
The Wabash Commentary was still placed on probation during the Dec. 10 senate meeting, and its editors have promised to publish an apology in the next edition.
Among other stories, the student senate had been particularly irate about The Commentary’s statement in its October/November 2002 issue that a professor’s wife was ‘fat and ugly.’ The senate said the comments violated the all-male school’s gentleman’s rule, which requires students to act as ‘gentlemen’ on and off campus.
In a Nov. 12 meeting, the senate voted overwhelmingly to rescind the publication’s $1,250 per semester allocation of mandatory student fees and its student group recognition, which effectively limited the editors’ access to school buildings and equipment.
‘The funding that we give out is based on our behavior as students here on campus,’ said Aaron Denman, a student senate member on WishTV8. ‘The gentleman rule is something we highly regard, and if they’re not going to obey that rule then I think as a body we can restrict their funding for that.’
The Commentary protested the senate’s decision but had little recourse because the private school’s actions are not limited by the First Amendment.
Commentary staff members say the senate has tried before to silence the magazine for its right-wing perspective. Since receiving official recognition in 1994, The Commentary has survived senate attempts in 1995, 1998 and 2001 to revoke its student fee allocation, said editor Sean Salai.
‘Now, that’s the slippery slope we’re worried about. How does the senate oversee gentlemanly content on campus?’ Salai said in the WishTV8 story.
Editors say without the funding they would have to drop production from six issues per year to four.