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The student government at the University of West Georgia is looking to cut funding to the school’s student newspaper in retaliation for an opinion piece that mocked fraternities.

The day after the West Georgian ran a column called “Join a Frat with Buck Futter, Jr.” student body president Alan Webster — a fraternity brother himself — introduced a bill that would freeze the paper’s funds on a “temporary yet immediate” basis while the university explored alternative ways to “allocat[e] institutional funds to extend interesting, informative, accurate, and responsible information in a manner that sheds a positive light on the University.”

The bill was passed by the student government and is being reviewed by university lawyers prior to implementation.

The offending column described frat members as “over-aggressive alcoholics that have no sense of responsibility,” and said that the university repeatedly lets “frats off the hook despite their incessant rule-breaking and idiotic antics.” It claims that frat members keyed the word “FAG” into the finish of a Resident Assistant’s car, and went unpunished “because University Police never actually investigate any crimes against students.”

It also suggests that UWG fraternity members regularly have sex with each other and rape passed-out female students.

The New School Free Press has the transcript of the Wednesday night speech in which Bob Kerrey told the New School Board of Trustees that he wouldn’t be seeking a contract extension. As I was reading it over just now, a passage from near the end leaped out at me:

“My term as President will end no later than July 1, 2011.”

No later than. Huh.

Like lots of other people, I reported yesterday that Kerrey had announced he would be leaving the New School at the end of his current contract — but that’s not actually what he said. He said he would be leaving by then, and he was careful to leave the door open for an earlier departure.

Now, to be fair, he did say earlier in the speech that he had “confidence I can continue to lead this university through June 30, 2011 when my current contract ends.” And he has said in the past that if he ever lost the support of the New School’s trustees, he’d resign. But still.

Look what else he said, near the top of the speech: “To understate the case, this has been a challenging semester for the university and my family. There have been moments when I reached the limit of my willingness to continue serving as your president.”

It’s been clear for a long time that Kerrey has been ambivalent about continuing on as president of the New School. It doesn’t look to me like he’s completely put that ambivalence behind him, even now.

I love student media, and I don’t think it gets anywhere near the respect it deserves. I don’t like it when people pick on the campus press. But when a student newspaper adopts the bad habits of the mainstream media, and publishes a sloppy, hostile-to-students story, it should get called on it, I think.

Yesterday’s Kent State News includes a piece on the aftermath of the local student riot that happened a couple of weeks back, a riot that some have blamed on police misconduct. The title of this story

“Some incoming freshmen rethinking their decision to attend KSU after riots.”

But there’s a problem — the article doesn’t give any evidence that the headline’s claim is true.

The piece says the mother of incoming student Kayla Will is having second thoughts about Kent State in the wake of the riots, but that Kayla isn’t. “These riots,” the article says, “don’t impact her desire to go to Kent State.”

Another entering student, Leah Friedlander, says her parents “trust me to stay out of harm’s way.” According to the paper, “she has been planning on attending Kent State for pre-pharamacy since her junior year of high school, and the riots didn’t change her decision.”

That’s the total of the interviewing the paper did. Two students, neither of whom is rethinking anything.

And if the university itself is worried, they’re not saying so — they sent out a letter to incoming students to reassure them, one administrator says, but they’ve received only “minimal calls” about the issue.

This article is grounded in the premise that last month’s student rioters harmed the image of Kent State among likely attendees, but the article provides no support for that premise. None.

Ari Melber of The Nation has put together a sharp overview of the flap over Condoleeza Rice’srecent comments on torture, and his piece does a better job than any other I’ve read of highlighting what a student power moment this is.

Three Stanford students — one with a video camera, the other two just asking questions — buttonholed Rice at a dorm event, and changed the direction of America’s debate on Bush-era torture policy. There was none of the preening or shouting that the talk show pundits wallow in, just good, solid questions and deeply inadequate answers. (At least one of the questioners didn’t even know he was on camera — he was just engaging with Rice in the moment.)

And the three students who made it happen? Sammy Abusrur, is a sports reporter for the Stanford Daily. Jeremy Cohn is a public policy major and an alto saxophonist in the Stanford marching band. Reyna Garcia, who taped the exchange and uploaded it to YouTube, is a sophomore.

Steven Oliver and Kendra Key met in the contest for the student government presidency at the University of Alabama this year.

More than fourteen thousand students, well over half the campus population, voted — the most in UA history. The race was close, with less than two percentage points separating the two candidates. But in the end Olvier, a white man, defeated Key, a black woman, by two hundred and sixty-one votes.

UA is the flagship campus of Alabama’s state university system, and it has never had a black student body president. In the fourteen years since its current student government was established, seventeen students of color have run for campus-wide office. All have lost. 

Race is not the only factor in Alabama’s student government elections, of course. (The campus’s student body is more than eighty-five percent white, to start with, which means the majority of Key’s support came from white students.) Oliver ran with heavy support from fraternities and sororities, and the divide between greeks and independents played a major role in the campaign.

But the fact that UA’s student officers have been — and remain — all white has significant consequences for the student government, and the campus as a whole. UA’s student newspaper, the Crimson White, grapples with those consequences in two articles — here and here.

About This Blog

n7772graysmall is the work of Angus Johnston, a historian and advocate of American student organizing.

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