The Student Press Law Center joined a coalition of professional and collegiate media groups in writing an open letter to Texas A&M University’s president, calling on her to reverse her decision to stop the print edition of its student newspaper, The Battalion. Below is the letter in full.
To Texas A&M University President M. Katherine Banks:
We represent a variety of organizations that support both college and professional media, and we are calling on you to rescind your decision to shut down the print edition of The Battalion, the student newspaper at Texas A&M University.
The Battalion might be the oldest continuous Aggie tradition dating back to its first issue on Oct. 1, 1893, before A&M’s first football game and before the 12th Man. To unilaterally end that tradition without so much as a word of input from the students and adviser who work on the newspaper every week is alarming.
All of us are concerned that this undermines the ability of student journalists to maintain their editorial independence. College media organizations, just like professional media, only work when they have control over their product. These students are preparing for careers in media. Being responsible for their product and its operations teaches self-reliance that makes them better students as well as better future employees. This heavy-handed action sends a dangerous signal to them as well as to prospective students who want to learn journalism at A&M.
The Battalion has a strong reputation in the college media world, winning numerous national and state awards for their work. Many graduates have gone on to successful careers in media, including at The New York Times and CNN. This action undercuts their great work.
Decisions about the content and format of The Battalion should rest with the students who create it with support from professional staff. Our organizations support the students and the adviser of The Battalion and stand ready to assist them during this time. We look forward to hearing the steps you will take to return ownership of The Battalion to those who produce it.
College Media Association
Associated Collegiate Press
Society of Professional Journalists
Student Press Law Center
Texas Intercollegiate Press Association