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Our View – CSULB press freedoms trump USC’s

It is not often that Cal State Long Beach can say we have outdone the prestigious USC. They have the beloved football team and a renowned national reputation. Its campus sits in the center of a bustling metropolitan city and, let’s not forget, they have a historic, valiant warrior as their mascot.

But, as many fellow 49ers may know, the editor in chief of the Daily Trojan, the main campus paper at USC, was forced to resign after being told by campus administrators that he would not be able to resume his position in the following term, according to an article in the Dec. 6 issue of the Los Angeles Times. This is something that would never happen at CSULB under President F. King Alexander.

Alexander has remained completely hands-off from campus media, allowing all forms of campus news, even university-funded media, to remain independent from the university administrations and any kind of censorship.

At times, it is aggravating that campus dollars are funding substandard writing and media, which lack journalistic integrity without accountability from the university that is funding it. But, more importantly, the laissez faire attitude of CSULB administrators is allowing unbridled democracy to happen by giving students a forum to publish pretty much anything – even garbage.

Students at USC are now being subjected to censorship from the university president, who, apparently, can simply oust the student editor in chief if his policies do not coincide with those of the university’s administrators.

The actions that former Trojan editor in chief Zach Fox did to irk university administrators at USC were merely reorganizing the paper’s staff and obtaining its financial records, according to the article. USC’s spokesperson denies the claim that these were the reasons for the decision to not elect Fox to the position.

The Trojan is not at all unorthodox in regards to campus media. Each semester the editor positions at the paper are subjected to approval of a media board, consisting of students, faculty and administrators – something like our media board here at CSULB. Thankfully, our administration have chosen to allow our media to function with relative freedom.

If USC wishes to retain any shred of its prestigious reputation, especially in its highly respected journalism program, it needs to lessen its grip on the student newspaper.

The main reason students write and work for a college newspaper is, aside from a passion for writing or an outlet for his or her ideas, so that he or she can have a better understanding of the media and be prepared to work as a journalist outside of college. By having such stern policies, USC is not only denying all of its students a variety of free flowing ideas, but is also denying journalism students an adequate education.

In an editorial published on their Web site, the Trojan put it most poignantly. “Although the Daily Trojan is not totally fiscally independent, its daily production has historically been student-run. Regardless of the formal level of independence of the paper, a meddling administration undermines the educational value of student journalism. Interventions like this assault the core values of student newspapers – objectivity and comprehensive coverage.”

This kind of censorship shouldn’t be present in any kind of institution that promotes itself as an institute of learning. It is a completely reprehensible action and let’s just hope this does not set a precedent for administrators across the nation (especially here).

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