Students up in arms over newspaper adviser’s removal

NEW YORK — Administrators at Le Moyne College elected on Monday not to renew the contract of a popular student newspaper adviser.

As a result, The Dolphin’s editorial staff voted 7-0 to halt publication of the newspaper until Alan Fischler is reinstated as adviser, said Dolphin Editor Andrew Brenner.

"We were absolutely livid" about the decision, said Brenner. He added that the staff will remain loyal to Fischler, who has been the newspaper’s adviser for eight years.

Brenner said that Dolphin staff printed a letter about their disagreement with the administrators’ decision, signed by all seven editors, that was distributed in place of the paper yesterday. The letter was printed with the staff’s own money, Brenner said, so the college could not accuse them of misusing student funds.

Shawn Ward, vice president for student development, said the decision to remove Fischler had nothing to with the newspaper’s content. He said the newspaper has not printed anything the college has been unhappy with. The decision was based on quality and grammatical mistakes, Ward said.

But Brenner said Ward told him in a meeting Tuesday that among other reasons for their decision, administrators were upset with a weekly satire column in which the columnist sometimes poked fun at the college. Brenner said he is meeting with Ward again today.

"The Dolphin, as a school paper, should inform the community and be a tool for students to learn about journalism," Ward said, adding that the students have been invited to help select a new adviser.

But according to Brenner, that point is moot. He said the staff will not work alongside any other adviser.

"I can’t tell you when the next issue of The Dolphin is going to come out," Brenner said. "They’ve made it clear that their view of an adviser is different than ours."

An adviser, Brenner said, is there to give advice, not take part in editing or content decisions.

"Once that happens it is no longer the student newspaper," Brenner said. "This marginalizes the role of the student press at Le Moyne. Prior review is kind of lurking its head with this decision."

Fischler told The Post-Standard, a Syracuse paper, that he probably will not be back as adviser.

"We all would like the paper to be better, but I would put up with the mistakes and the flaws in the writing if it means it gives students a better chance to learn the craft of journalism and not watch me do it," Fischler said in the Post-Standard.

Brenner said there seems to be a rallying of support behind The Dolphin.

"It’s been a big deal on campus and students are talking," he said, adding the decision not to publish "probably won’t be the last step taken" to fight Fischler’s removal.

by Clay Gaynor, SPLC staff writer