At Quinnipiac, student editors start carving a new path, independently

After a two-year tug of war with administrators, Quinnipiac Chronicle editors are taking matters into their own hands — and considering severing ties with the school permanently.

According to editor accounts, about 20 members of the newspaper met Wednesday night to begin planning for the possible creation an independent online newspaper.

The discussion came on the heels of a decision last week by high-level university administrators to hand select the newspaper’s editors for next year — a move quickly condemned by the Quinnipiac Faculty Senate and by Chronicle staff, who said in an unsigned statement that they refuse to serve as editors for the newspaper next year.

“We will put together our own independent newspaper free of control of the administration,” Chronicle Campus News Editor Jaclyn Hirsch said Thursday night.

The conflict began in 2006 when the Chronicle published an article covering an arrest of two freshmen. That day, outside media sources read the article online and contacted Quinnipiac President John Lahey, who was unaware of the arrest at the time. Soon, the administration created a Web publications policy, which banned online editorial content that did not appear in print.

Both administrators and Chronicle editors sparred over the Web policy for months before Vice President for Public Relations Lynn Bushnell, Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs Manuel Carreiro and Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs Kathleen McCourt announced in January that they would become a three-person Media Task Force.

The plan for the newspaper — proposed by the task force last month and approved by Lahey last week — calls for electing a publisher from the Quinnipiac School of Business who would have both editorial and financial control over the newspaper and answer to a “temporary” publishing board composed of the Student Government Association president and three school deans. The board would facilitate the process of making the newspaper independent, according to an April statement from the Media Task Force.

But administrators tacked on an addendum. Last week, Carreiro approached Editor in Chief Jason Braff and Managing Editors David Westerberg and Melissa Moller and asked for candidate recommendations for the various department editors that would form the editorial board next year, Hirsch said. Carreiro, she added, said that administrators would interview the nominees and choose the department editors for the following year. Under the plan, administrators would also create a list of their own candidates and select from that list an editor in chief.

Bushnell, the public-relations director, said the system would be in place for only two years, and has stressed in the past that the plan would eventually cause the newspaper to be independent from the administration. But Lahey indicated on Wednesday that he approved the plan in order to at least temporarily prevent independence.

He has not, however, found much support on campus.

On Tuesday, the 18-member Faculty Senate — a group of faculty members in charge of “creation, preservation and transmission of knowledge,” according to the Quinnipiac Web site — voted 17-0, with one abstention, to ask for a one-year halt on administrative plans to change the structure of the newspaper. The Senate also requested that no structural changes be made without the group’s “effective and meaningful participation” in discussion, according to a statement.

Lahey responded quickly.

“My ultimate decisions with respect to the newspaper were consistent to the wishes of student editors and the Communications faculty that we not move the newspaper to ‘independent’ status as recommended by the Task Force,” he wrote in a Wednesday statement addressed to the Quinnipiac Faculty Senate.

On the same day, all 20 students who applied for an editor position next year — including current junior Braff, who was unavailable for comment this week — withdrew their applications, Hirsch said. Currently, there is no editorial board for next year’s paper, according to a statement posted on the Chronicle Web site.

“The future of The Chronicle is uncertain,” the unsigned statement said.

Although Bushnell insisted on Friday that the weekly distribution of the print newspaper would not be affected next year, if the Chronicle staff members have their way, the distribution would change completely.

Hirsch said a 20-person group of Chronicle members have split into committees in order to research Web space costs and marketing, among other areas of newspaper operation, in order to create an independent Web structure.

She added that throughout the process there was no communication between the editors and administration.

“The decision to go independent was never ours,” Hirsch said.

Comments

  • Quinnipiac = Traffic Death

    Quinnipiac is backwards in many ways. Worse than the Chinese-style crackdown on their own students is the fact that they just don't care about their students' personal safety. Students die every year in car crashes, and have to endure a long walk from campus to the nearest retail strip, along a busy highway with no sidewalks, no intersection markings, and speeding traffic. If Quinnipiac cared about its students and about the community at large, it would be spending a lot more time lobbying the Town of Hamden and State DOT to do something much more quickly.

    If anyone at Quinnipiac is reading this, yes, we all know that the state will be installing some signals next year. And we all know that you like to blame every problem on alcohol, which is ridiculous because no matter what you do, students are going to drink.

    However, the road "improvements" that Quinnipiac and the Town are making come after 15 years of complaints and student deaths/injuries, and the plan they have developed is grossly inadequate. They also haven't done anything to address the traffic safety issues around the new campus area sitting farther south in Hamden. Which means we'll have to wait another 15 years, and endure the deaths of another few dozen students, before anything is actually accomplished.

  • Anonymous

    i am certainly disappointed by the way the quinnipiac administration has been handling this situation. pitiful.

  • Yalie

    What do you expect? It's a third-tier school. Unfortunately, it happens.

    And also, why should we care about this?

  • Yalie '09

    Small talk for Toads?

    But seriously, they are part of the NH community. I do find it interesting and worthwhile.

  • john

    "have to endure a long walk from campus to the nearest retail strip, along a busy highway with no sidewalks, no intersection markings, and speeding traffic."

    Quinninpiac has shuttle buses that run everyday to the town of Hamden and New Haven.

    "What do you expect? It's a third-tier school. Unfortunately, it happens."

    Your a snobby, stuck up, yalie… Quinnipiac, though it will never be Ivy league, is an excellent school in its own right.

    But on a more important note, I'm glad they finally decided to stand up to the administration, which has been very hypocritical and unfair to its students..

  • Anonymous

    Good thing that "first tier schools" like Yale are entirely devoid of problems and controversy!

  • joey h.

    ..and to the rescue are callous Developers to harangue and torture the hapless residents residing in the vicinity of Quinnipiac. These ethically challenged but well funded weasels will make that long Liquor store trek a thing of the past..gooo owls