Criticism is nothing new for me. In this job, you quickly learn to have a thick skin, as you find that you generally get reamed out far more often than you get encouraged or praised.
I was only marginally surprised, then, to get an item forwarded to me early this week from the opinion editor: It was a highly charged and combative indictment of last week's Sex and the 'Seo piece, which was a light-hearted take on the age-old question of which sex is more prone to infidelity in relationships. The message, signed by nine sophomores, made several claims to the inappropriateness of the piece, calling it, "vile and repulsive, and filled with inaccuracies and gross generalizations."
I'm not writing to debate the content of the column. While I did find the students' language overwrought, I respect their opinion and can only urge them to not read Sex and the 'Seo in the future.
What really grabbed my attention, instead, was the warning at the end of the message: "If these articles are not removed from future editions of The Lamron, we are prepared to take further actions against them with the school's administration."
This part made me concerned, not out of fear that the wrath of Dahl & Co. was about to come raining down on our newspaper, but rather about what would possibly make Geneseo students believe that the school's administration is in a position to dictate to The Lamron staff what we are allowed to print and what we are not.
To me, such a fundamental misconception on the part of Geneseo students as to the independent role of the student newspaper, even one partially supported by Student Association, was genuinely frightening. Perhaps it can be chalked up to underclassman naiveté, but I worried there might be more to it.
Out of curiosity and for the sake of trying to understand the beliefs that underlined their assertion, I e-mailed the group to ask them what sort of route they planned to embark on to get the administration to censor The Lamron's content. As of late Tuesday, I heard back from three who said that they didn't, in fact, believe the administration had a right to censor The Lamron but were offended regardless.
The responses I did get were heartening (despite their continued criticism - don't worry, I can take it), but the nature of the original warning remained disconcerting. While I do not claim this situation to be tantamount to the recent episode at Montclair State University, in which the Student Government Association froze the student newspaper's budget after a series of articles critical of the SGA, I can't help but think back to it in light of the students' claims.
It remains to be seen what the other students will do, but I'd urge them to consider the underlying implication in their warning. It would be bad enough if students didn't have the freedom to print what they want, but what do we do if students themselves don't realize we have this right? There's no easy answer, but I can only hope that by continuing our mission of being relevant to students (by printing both hard news and light-hearted pieces; read whichever you choose), we can educate all about the freedoms that not everyone seems to understand we have.
Jacob Kriss is a senior English major and he's ready for your hate mail.