Seattle Central Community College closes newspaper after adviser quits

WASHINGTON — The City Collegian at Seattle CentralCommunity College in Washington is not publishing, and explanations differ aboutthe reason. The newspaper is not closed, but rather in search of a new adviser,according to a memo sent to faculty and staff from the college’s president.

However, supporters for the City Collegian tell a different story.They believe the newspaper was shut down because of university officialsimplementing rules in attempts to censor the newspaper.

The City Collegian was a bi-weekly student newspaper that had anonline presence. There is not a consensus explanation as to why the newspaperhas stopped publishing or when it will be operating again.

“The adviser left with no notice or successor,” said public relations Director Laura Mansfield,who is also the chairperson of the college’s Publications Board. “We (thePublications Board) met yesterday and are beginning the process for a newadviser.”

The Publications Board serves as a publisher for the student newspaper andacts as a buffer between the paper and administrators.

She said that the Publications Board was working to find a new adviserafter the old adviser quit. She said that the newspaper should be running by theend of the academic year, but the City Collegian does not publish duringthe summer.

Jeb Wyman, the former adviser, resigned in June. He told the SeattlePost-Intelligencer that a credit hour rule — among other rules –imposed on staff members is why he eventually called it quits. The PublicationsBoard prohibited students from working at the newspaper if they were taking lessthan 10 credit hours.

“What they’re really attempting to do is let the students who were on theCity Collegian who were practicing serious journalism to leave theschool,” he told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “I really suspect thatthis is a fear-based response.”

J.K. Howell was elected by fellow staff members to be editor in chief ofthe City Collegian for this academic year after working for the newspapersince fall 2006. Howell is skeptical that the college is telling the whole storyas to why the newspaper is closed for now.

“There has been tension between the newspaper and the studentleadership office for as long as I’ve been on the newspaper,” hesaid. “The Publications Board has often put the newspaper on the defensetrying to justify its actions or mandate a new direction forcontent.”

This is the first year Howell was slated be editor in chief. While therewas an offer for students to work on the online, university publication,Zine, he refused.

“This isn’t just a violation of student civil rights,” he said.”This is an outright betrayal of the trust we place in our academicadministration.”

Howell said that Wyman’s resignation was used to justify the shutdown ofthe “student-run” newspaper and its replacement with a

“staff-edited” publication.

An online petition, “Save the City Collegian,” iscalling for Mansfield to relinquish her chair on the Publications Board, there-opening of the newsroom and protection for the City Collegian.

The petition states that the rights to free expression, as guaranteed bythe First Amendment, must be respected and protected on the college campus. Itstates, that the newspaper should be a “marketplace of ideas,”

“a watchdog on the governance of (the) community” and “providea source of vital education and experience for students.”

Journalism students at SCCC now have the choice to work for twouniversity-edited publications, the Zine and a blog, until the CityCollegian re-opens.

“I was making every effort to make sure that they were putting out agood piece of journalism,” Mansfield said. “We try to equip them(student journalists) with whatever tool they need.”

But she said that there have been a small handful of disappointed studentswho were supposed to write for the newspaper.