You Are What You Teach
The Mountain Echo, a student newspaper dating back to 1879, broke the news on April 13: "Echo Adviser Protests Reprimand." A middle sentence read: "Even though Lawbaugh refuses comment, a meeting on Monday, April 17, at 8 p.m. has been scheduled in the Writing Center for students and other who want to help protest."
What soon became billed as "rally" took an ugly turn. Rumors began circulating that the entire faculties of the collegeís most powerful departments, theology and philosophy, were going to crash the lovefest and pick a fight.
At 7:50 p.m. that Monday, it became obvious that the Writing Center room could not handle the crowd. Katie and Erin, the coordinators, moved the meeting/rally/slugfest downstairs to a classroom.
The entire full time faculty of the Mount St. Maryís College theology department showed up in force, but only a couple of philosophers and a lone drama teacher who had recently been blessed by the Provost with a department chairmanship. They flanked along the back wall, arms folded. Some of them scoffed when Katie asked the volatile mix of students, their feared and beloved professors, and outside reporters to start with a prayer.
Erin led off with a flawless recitation of the Mountís mission statement, pausing to emphasize the bit about "free inquiry."
The battle lines were drawn. These professors were just about to teach the most powerful lessons of their careers in this highly charged forum. Tense and impressionable students were poised to see their professors profess outside their classes.
Philosophy led the charge. A professor recently blessed by the Provost with a lucrative endowed fellowship (named after a newspaper publisher, ironically), began firing salvos at the now-embattled campus newspaper adviser (thatís me), mustering all the rhetorical flourishes of ethos, pathos, and logos in what appeared to be a well orchestrated and rehearsed display of raw power as her cohorts jumped in and piled on. Brilliant! The newspaper adviser (thatís me) crumpled. My Ban Ultra instantly failed me, and I squirmed, stuttered, and stammered. Student editors then spoke up, giving me a brief respite.
Students afterwards saw through the "act". In their own words, they saw Philosophy taught as a weapon, the exact opposite of a love for wisdom or a search for truth. Poor Philosophy. A teaching moment lost. Mighty Theology also missed a golden opportunity to teach the love of God, mercy, forgiveness, and compassion. At one
point Katie had to tell Theology not to be so condescending. Other students tried to shush another theologian who kept muttering nervous commentary while the embattled advisor (thatís me) tried to deflect pointed questions about newsroom discussion and intimate advising.
Finally it was Dramaís turn in what appeared to outsiders as an orchestrated and well rehearsed power performance. Would Drama teach that life is but a stage, and that we are but poor, miserable strutters? Or would Drama beat up on student editors, try to intimidate and embarrass them? Oh, teaching moment!
We teachers cannot help but teach at all times, whether in the classroom or the Safeway or the corner bar. Faculty media advisers, too. We cannot just mouth the First Amendment, we have to live it. Students are not dumb. They learn what they live, too, and this lovefest turned slugfest taught many lessons that most of those students will never forget. They did not learn love of God much less love of truth, and thatís too bad.
An ugly scene. What command performance or peer pressure prompted the interloping professors to show up and rain epithets on Erinís and Katieís parade is still not clear, but a couple of profs left enlightened. Student editors had haltingly convinced them that their budget and morale problems were not entirely of their own making. Budget cuts, loss of scholarship money, unhealthy working conditions, and now, their adviser who gets a letter of reprimand plus a $3,804 enticement to muzzle them. How much more can they take? Stay tuned.
This is the final installment a three part series. To read the trilogy check us out on the web at http://comdept.clarion.edu/scj/reporter.htm.
Dr. William Lawbaugh is thePresident of National SCJ.
Clarion University Hosts SCJ Region I Meeting
The Second meeting of SCJ Region I was hosted by Regional Center, Clarion University on November 11, 2000.
The meeting consisted of student representatives from Muskingum College, Fairmont State College, Lock Haven University and Clarion University. In addition there were guests from Penn State Altoona and California University of PA.
The group discussed ways in which SCJ chapters can be involved in Region I activities and support other SCJ chapters. The SCJ National Council has allocated a portion of the National budget to regional chapters that wish to host an authorized College Press Day.
Chapter representatives elected to begin the construction of Region I by forming a committee of those present and communicating by e-mail and web site message boards. The group decided the first order of Region I was to set forth a set of by-laws. Jimmy Sharp from Muskingum College will serve as moderator of the electronic communication.
The National Office will be contacting each chapter to designate Regions. Please look for the notification.
The fifth College Press Day is being planned for November 2001 at Clarion University, be sure to watch your mail and The Reporter for details.
Mary Beth Curry is the Editor of The Reporter.
October 26, 2000
Honorable Janet Reno
Dear Ms. Reno,
This organization urges you to advise President Clinton to veto the anti-leak provision embedded in the new Intelligence Bill, drafted by Sen.. Richard Shelby.
These provisions, drafted without benefit of congressional hearings and media expert witness, will make the disclosure of classified material a criminal felony for the first time in American history. We think current laws protect properly classified government information adequately, but the Shelby anti-leak provisions go way beyond necessity to punish legitimate whistleblowers and produce a chilling effect on the process of newsgathering. We further contend that, under a less enlightened Attorney General, reporters could be targeted for subpoena action to reveal their sources and face contempt of court charges for their refusal to do so.
You will agree that he federal government tends to overclassify material of public interest than under-classify. Under the Shelby provisions, the Pentagon Papers and Watergate might indeed become historical odditites rather than leads to government reform.
I am third-term president of the nation's oldest journalism honorary association and one-time quarterback of the Subiac (Ark.) Trojans who played against President Clinton in high school. He will appreciate your wise counsel on this urgent matter.
Dr. William Lawbaugh
In the SCJ Spotlight:
Greetings from the heart of the Ozarks, Springfield, MO.
I am honored to fill the new position of Third Vice President of SCJ. I am an associate professor of communication at Evangel University, a small liberal arts college affiliated with the Assemblies of God. I have been teaching journalism and mass communication at Evangel since the fall of 1981.
I am chair of the Communication Department, advise the weekly newspaper, The Lance, and advise the SCJ Chapter. During three of the past 20 years I have also advised the yearbook. Prior to that, I taught journalism and advised the newspaper and yearbook in high school and then taught part-time at another local college. I also do free-lance writing and editing on a regular basis. At Evangel, our SCJ chapter, as most chapters, has had its ups and downs, but we have also received the McDonald Award twice. We are in a rebuilding mode now after having had a number of members graduate.
As of the National Council meeting in D.C. in November, my portfolio will include overseeing the contests and awards. This is one of the most meaningful activities of the organization as students have the opportunity to be recognized for their work. Such recognition not only benefits the individual but also the entire communication/journalism program at a school.
When criticisms arise concerning the media program at your university, pointing out that the students are doing outstanding work in comparison to other colleges can be a means of saying, "We aren't perfect, but we are excelling by national honorary society standards."
The contests are also a way to recruit new members. Many staffers would like to be recognized for their work, so we encourage them to become SCJ members so their work can be submitted. The National Council is eager to have feedback on the contest organization. Please contact me with suggestions you have for improving the process. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you!
NOTES FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Plenty to Report...
First: The SCJ National Council met at the CMA/ACP convention in Washington, D.C. and the new council is eager for work. We are implementing the terms of the Sprig 2000 convention and preparing for a launch of our Recruitment and Retention plan as presented by the Virginia Wesleyan Chapter and adopted by National Council.
As I enter my ninth year as SCJ Executive Director I can assure the membership that our organization is on a firm footing: our finances are in order; we have new, and new annealed, National Council members; our association with cognate organizations is as extensive as it has ever been; we have actively taken positions on key issues of importance to a free and vigorous student press, but our membership, at best, remains constant. Sadly, for each new SCJ Chapter I add I find I also delete a defunct. So now is the time to build on our firm foundation and raise SCJ to another level of national service and recognition.
Get ready for a Spring Surge.
. . . . . . .
Don't forget about the SCJ National Contest. Included with this newsletter is a second posting of contest rules and the necessary entry forms. The Deadline is 31 December 2000, but as we all know, a Semester's end is the hardest moment to locate, process and post important contest materials. Have your Chapter's Contest Committee act NOW.
And please NOTE the address of the new National Contest Director.
Congratulations ToOur Newest Members