TEXAS – A plan that didn’t allow newspaper boxes – even for the school’s paper – in front of the University of Texas’ journalism school is going away after public pressure.
The Daily Texan publicized the rules Thursday, writing that its newspaper boxes were not being allowed on the sidewalk or in the plaza in front of the Belo Center for New Media, the new home for the school of journalism, the college of communication administration and the Department of Advertising and Public Relations.
“We feel that it is important that newspaper be accessible to the people in that building,” said Susannah Jacob, the Texan’s editor-in-chief. “It means a lot to us that they have access to the product they work very hard on each day.”
College of Communications administrators quickly reversed their position, announcing in a statement that a Texan “ban” was never intended. The school’s dean said the school would work with architect of the newly opened building to design and decide where the news boxes could go.
Reasons to exclude the boxes included the small pedestrian foot traffic around the Belo building and the fact news boxes exist on three sides of the Belo building across the street, College of Communications Dean Roderick Hart said in an email interview.
Mark Morrison, an adjunct journalism lecturer, said he first asked about the lack of boxes in April at the center’s dedication of the Walter Cronkite Plaza. Morrison said he was told there were concerns the boxes could be an obstruction during evacuations.
Glenn Frankel, the director of the school of journalism, who began looking into the issue last month, said he was told the reason behind the lack of boxes included insuring the building was aesthetically pleasing and more efficient.
According to the University of Texas Systems Board of Regents policy, news boxes are allowed as long as they do not interfere with foot traffic or entrances and exits from buildings. The Daily Texan has 75 newspaper boxes on campus and 100 off-campus, said Frank Serpas, Texas Student Media’s operations manager.
By Bailey McGowan, SPLC staff writer. Contact McGowan by email or at (703) 807-1904 ext. 127.