‘QU is not a business’

By on October 31, 2007

President Lahey has made it his mission to propel Quinnipiac to a position of respect and recognition, both locally and nationally. While it has been, for the most part, a success, his recent comments set the school back irreparably. Notwithstanding the university’s response to the recent acts of cowardice, which was absolutely deplorable, the president insists on prolonging the negative attention on the school by trampling on the only conduit of information that the student body has.

There can be little debate that the administration wishes there was no student newspaper. Lahey’s comments are remarkably similar to the ones he made at orientation several years ago to a gym full of parents: “The student newspaper doesn’t always get it right.”

There has been a continuing theme of keeping the outside world outside. Anything that might cast the university in a bad light is covered up and ignored, with no regard to the victims. It borders on propaganda, and it doesn’t help that Lahey uses the word “control” when speaking about the press. Quinnipiac University is not a business.

No one should be surprised when the administration takes a position of publicly not caring. The proper response to a hate crime is not, of all things, to use the phrase “we really don’t care.” By the way, Mr. President, I read the abbreviated and full versions of your comment, and I don’t see any difference in the result. Either way, there is no caring, no matter how many words are placed in front of it. You already made it clear that you “don’t know if it was a crime or not.” Such a position shows a devastating lack of forethought.

Restricting speech in the name of the First Amendment, which is what I understand Lahey’s comments to the SGA to say, is absolutely wrong. Is the next step to shut the newspaper down? Will the school still give the Fred Friendly award for journalism then? Will it still have a journalism major? Everyone knows the law. It is true that as a private institution, free speech does not carry the same weight that it does at UConn or CCSU. But using that as a justification for refusing to speak to the student media -in fact, trying to silence the student media- after, by all accounts, a spectacular fumble by the administration, is to take a giant step backward. This is clearly a free speech issue. Refusing to discuss issues like racism in anything but a closed-door environment helps no one and fosters the exact kind of ignorance that a university is, by its very nature, supposed to combat.

This has been said before, but it can’t be said enough. The student media is doing its job by reporting information to the students and the outside world. If the president is not willing to stand by even his own statements, however unpolished, he cannot fault the media. They report what takes place. If the administration makes a huge mistake, that will be reported along with the successes. Picking and choosing what information people can access has no place under the American Constitution, and Quinnipiac will never reach the prominence it seeks as long as it employs such a policy.


About Chris Kurker-Stewart