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The student occupations in Austria are still going on. No major news stories have emerged over the weekend, but a bunch of blogs do have new coverage. Here are some relevant links:

See bottom of post for updates.

The first major American student protest of the new academic year has erupted at Howard University.

Hundreds of Howard students gathered outside the historically black university’s administration building on Friday, demanding that Howard address problems with financial aid, campus housing, and other issues. Rapper and entrepreneur Diddy, a Howard graduate, urged the students on via Twitter, telling them to “Do what we did and take IT OVER!!!!”

Classes began nearly two weeks ago at Howard, but many students say their financial aid is still in limbo. Students also complained about a shortage of on campus housing and about administration censorship of the student newspaper, the Hilltop.

The Hilltop reported on Twitter that after campus security locked the administration building down the protest moved on to the university chapel, where Howard student government officers addressed the crowd.

A thirteen-point list of demands presented to the administration included

  • The resignation of the leadership of the Office of Student Affairs.
  • Immediate reforms to financial aid policies.
  • Bringing campus buildings into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Budgetary transparency within the university.
  • Expansion of on-campus housing.

The protesters asked that the administration respond to their demands by next Wednesday, September 9.

More on this story as it develops…

Update: Here’s a YouTube clip from the protest, and a longer, edited YouTube vid, which includes an explanation of the demands.

Tuesday morning update: The Hilltop, Howard’s student newspaper, is going to meet with university president Sidney Ribeau at 12:30 pm this afternoon. Today’s Hilltop reports that more protests are planned if Ribeau does not adequately address the students’ demands by tomorrow.

Since the fall of 2005 the Texas Tech Daily Toreador has been running the number of US war dead in Iraq on its front page every issue. With the start of the fall semester, though, they’re dropping the feature.

The Toreador announced the change in an editorial last week, saying they made the decision “after President Barack Obama pledged to withdraw troops from Iraq by 2011.” With the Iraq war winding down, and the country “engaged in multiple foreign conflicts,” they feel that the Iraq tally “no longer serves readers as it once did.”

At a moment when the election of a new president has left the anti-Iraq war movement as splintered and quieted, the move appears to derive as much from a change in Washington as any change in Iraq. A withdrawal has been promised, yes, but even if it proceeds according to schedule the end of the war is still a long way off.

More than a hundred Americans have been killed in Iraq since Barack Obama took office as president. Two Americans have died there since the Toreador printed its editorial a week ago. That editorial does not adequately explain why the paper’s staff consider those deaths to be less worthy of notice than those that went before.

A few weeks back we ran a link to a piece about why student newspapers need to be online, adding a few thoughts of our own to the mix.

Well, we’ve just noticed that the Center for Innovation in College Media blog has been running a series of posts on the various updates and expansions that college papers have been undertaking this summer, and if you’re interested in online student media, it’s stuff that’s well worth checking out.

(Another recent CICM post that’s worth mentioning here is this one on college papers’ H1N1 flu coverage. The blog notes that more than a dozen campus papers have written about the flu, and that none of the articles it found include links to the CDC’s flu.gov site or other external sources of information. This fits with what we’ve seen of college papers’ work — they tend not to provide external links, even when doing to would add a lot of value to their stories.)

There’s a great article up at the MediaShift blog about student newspapers and online publishing.

According to one recent study, more than a third of college papers are still print-only. The MediaShift post looks at why that is, what the barriers to publishing online are, and why it’s so important to make the effort.

The whole thing is worth reading, but here are a few excerpts:

Make no mistake, college news is a messy business. Students are learning, and their mistakes all too often show up in print. An online presence will broadcast those mistakes to the world, so the theory goes. Also, a college that supports student press freedoms when distributed to 2,000 people on campus might not be so keen to distribute “bad news” about the campus when the whole world is watching.

[But] staying offline is a disservice to student journalists who cannot use the online tools now widespread in the industry. A student who can’t put material online can’t really understand the impact of social networks like Twitter or Facebook to spread news. They can’t really understand what it is to create a personal brand. And they can’t really understand the challenges of multimedia production.

A college that will not allow their student journalists to practice online journalism in a “real world” setting is abandoning its commitment to education in order to save face. And that is a tragedy not only for the college, but for the students who look to higher education to prepare them for the future.

Good stuff. And I’d add that a paper-only student newspaper is going to lose on-campus readership, particularly at a commuter campus, sequester itself from broader regional and national debates, and cut itself and its readership off from its own history.

Keeping a student paper offline isn’t just a disservice to the students who work on the paper, it’s a disservice to students who are doing organizing and activism on the campus as well.

Update: Butch Oxendine makes some excellent points in comments. An excerpt:

[Student newspapers] will maintain their relevance by specifically writing about campus-based issues, problems, and news that no one else is covering and reporting on. They will maintain their relevance by pulling the plug on the use of “wire” service reports from the Associated Press, etc.

Student newspapers must evolve. They’re not doing it well now. In tight economic times, more of them every year are being shut down. If they don’t have a web presence, they won’t be ready for this transition.

About This Blog

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StudentActivism.net is the work of Angus Johnston, a historian and advocate of American student organizing.

To contact Angus, click here. For more about him, check out AngusJohnston.com.

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