Give Me Liberty or Give Me A Liberal Arts Degree
As autumn rolls on, we here at the paper are reacquainting ourselves with the simple seasonal joys of crisp days, cold nights, changing leaves, and a thirty-day countdown ’til Bush gets the final boot. But in the midst of this month’s autumnal beauty, the paper was unfortunately reminded of an old issue here on campus when it came to our attention that stacks of our first issue were being thrown out all across campus. While we here at the paper are certainly not conspiracy theorists, and generally speaking we don’t think that the administration is out to silence the students, it does raise certain lingering anxieties about free speech on campus here at Fordham. As the campus’s most vulgar and exploitative journal, we’re proud of the fact that we’re quite controversial, we love offending the right people, and we know perfectly well when we’re in bad taste. As you’d imagine, we’re also quite sensitive on the issue of free speech. Naturally then, we’re anxious about existing on a campus that has a horribly restrictive posting policy, that won’t allow a pro-choice club on campus, and that employs Dean Christopher Rogers (jk, Big Guy). The problem with a publication like ours existing at a private institution like Fordham University is that we’re not protected by the First Amendment, so we’re always paranoid of getting pinched by the powers that be. For us, knowledge that our right to free speech on campus exists on the whims of a few select administrators is troubling, as both students and pseudo-journalists.
Our fears were given even more weight when we read The Ram’s interview with Father McShane. When asked about the issue of free speech on campus, Our Beloved Leader half-assed an answer on the subject. In the interview, McShane stuck to his firm belief in “academic” free speech, but made sure to take a strong stand against “hate speech” (bravo, Daddy Mac), without ever really addressing issues such as our school’s oppressive posting policy or protest policies. That seems to be the problem in the administration’s attitude. Every time the topic free speech is brought up, they hedge their bets and speak in vague, quasi-supportive manners to avoid taking a hard stance on the issue. While we at the paper fully understand the importance of keeping hate speech off of our campus, to justify putting student’s rights in limbo because of it is, frankly, abusing the initiative.
There is however a way to ensure that, as students, we are given our right to free speech on campus, and that’s by pushing for the student handbook to include a comprehensive amendment giving us that assurance. When we shuck out a boatload of cash for tuition at Fordham, we effectively engage in a contract with the school in the form of the Student Handbook (now online!). Because that document is a contract, both the students and the school are expected, legally, to live up to that contract.
While we here at the paper have an obvious, vested interest in the concept of guaranteed free speech on campus, it is our humble opinion that a free, uninhibited discourse in an academic setting is the best way for an institution of higher learning to exist in the promotion of new thoughts and ideas. We happen to think that the best way to deal with complex issues (even issues involving race, gender, and sexuality) is through open discussion, instead of potentially plugging our ears shut and hoping the issues go away on their own. But hey, maybe that’s just us being wacky, lefty, utopian nuts, but isn’t that how critical reasoning works?
The request from us at the paper is simple: Dean Rodgers, Daddy Mac, mysterious and faceless bureaucracy that runs OSL&CD, giant computer that is programmed to make bad decisions, would you please, kindly, guarantee us our First Amendment right in exchange for our $40,000 a year?
Until we hear back from them, we’ll remain thankful that our school so graciously allows for puerile, jingoistic, misinformed, neo-con crap like The Liberty Forum to exist next to our “cunt” and “dick” punctuated leftist rag.