NEW YORK — The University at Buffalo’s student-run,alternative magazine, Generation, ceased publication after astudent-government-owned company suspended its charter for the second time thisyear.
Generation Editor-in-Chief Joshua Boston said he was informed onSept. 8 that Sub Board I, a non-profit corporation that owns the magazine andprovides student services, was closing the magazine for the semester. Thedecision was a result of an investigation into allegations of a conflict ofinterest in Boston’s hiring.
Charges that Boston’shiring constituted a conflict of interest arose because his friend and roommate,Robert Pape, served on the hiring committee as vice president of Sub Board.Boston said Pape announced the potential conflict of interest to the rest of thecommittee and refrained from participating in Boston’s interview, but did notremove himself from the committee.
Cragg Chaffee, president of the executive committee of Sub-Board I, saidthat the board decided to suspend Generation‘s charter a second timebecause of “a public perception of wrongdoing.”
A Sub Board committee hired Boston in April, after deciding to suspend themagazine’s charter “due to a lack of action by the magazine’s editorial board toaddress offensive, discriminatory, and possible libelous content,” according toa statement sent to Generation‘s editors. The charter was then changed togive Sub Board the power to select the magazine’s editor-in-chief, rather thanhaving Generation staff members vote.Before deciding to suspend
Generation‘s charter the first time, Sub Board had expressed concernsabout the magazine’s explicit personal ads and a section that allowed UBstudents to ask anonymous questions of Generation staff.
Though Generation is editorially independent, Sub Board hasfinancial control of the publication.
“[The directors of Sub Board] have every right to do this,” Boston said,”but I think they made the wrong decision.” He said magazine staffers hadplanned investigative pieces that he thought would be beneficial to theuniversity.
“I absolutely think there were other actions that could have been taken,”Boston said, calling the suspension of the charter “a drastic measure.” He saidhe asked the Sub Board why he wasn’t fired rather than shutting down the entirepublication, but did not receive a satisfactory answer.
Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, alsosaid he thought the group could have taken less extreme action. The repeatedsuspension of Generation‘s charter called the magazine’s independenceinto question, he said.
“Once a publication is declared editorially independent, for thatindependence to be meaningful, the charter needs to be revocable only for themost dire circumstances,” LoMonte said.