Southwestern College, student newspaper reach one-time printing agreement

CALIFORNIA — The Southwestern College student newspaper hascome to an agreement with the college to resume printing, but not before thepaper missed its first issue.

The next issue of the paper will come out Thursday, said Max Branscomb,The Sun‘s adviser. He said members of the faculty are planning arally in conjunction with The Sun‘s first issue.

The Sun’s editorial board and adviser released a joint statement with Southwestern College on Sept. 18 announcing their intention to work to resolve the dispute. However, a statement released by The Sun on Sept. 24 said, “Subsequent district statements that gave the appearance that the crisis had been settled were misleading or false” because the paper missed its first printing deadline.

The controversy began when the college began enforcing a 20-year-old policy thatrequires the governing board to approve the paper’s printingcontract.

Branscomb said he and his students were “irritated” because theschool’s announcement essentially said, “Now everything’sOK.” However, Branscomb said his students missed the window for theirfirst print issue because of the dispute. The first issue was scheduled to bepublished Sept. 17.

Chris Bender, spokesman for Southwestern College, reiterated the fact thepaper always had permission to publish content online.

“They always had the ability to publish any content they felt like itwas important for them to publish,” he said. “This is simply anissue of making sure that they followed the standard business practices that allof the college’s departments follow.”

Bender said the purchasing order will be approved at the next governingboard meeting but The Sun has the ability to print its next issue at itsdiscretion. The current agreement is a one-time purchase order, good only for the next issue.

“The district did exactly what we said we were going to do, we weregoing to expedite the process of getting bids received and a purchase orderissued, and we did that,” Bender said.

Branscomb said the staff published some of their stories online before thecontent lost its timeliness, but are saving most of their stories for the printedition.

“They’re kind of keeping their cards close to their chests,they want to put it out in print first,” he said. “There’ssymbolic reasons now for doing all of this.”

Branscomb said the agreement isn’t for the long term, but the partiesagreed to this temporary solution in order to allow the paper to print. However,The Sun still has issues with the current policy, including the”imposition of a Student Publications Board with the authority to ratifyand fire the Sun’s Editor-in-Chief,” according to The Sun‘s statement.

“Absolutely, my students and I want to see the policy sunset,”Branscomb said.

CLARIFICATION: The college and the newspaper issued a joint statement Sept. 18, but the newspaper was critical of subsequent statements by the college. An earlier version of this story did not make the distinction clear. The SPLC regrets the omission.