TBOC!-- "Valid research and educational purposes"
"The voice of reason is small, but very persistent."-- Words found on a Vienna memorial to Sigmund Freud
President Dan Sullivan, in a memo to SLU faculty and staff (which we've kindly provided a copy of here), mentions the on-campus block of Take Back Our Campus but refuses to mention our site by name, as he did in an earlier, even more secretive memo. His quietus of Take Back Our Campus is conspicuous; it should give any intelligent reader the indication that Sullivan is trying to hide something from the St. Lawrence community, but I will return to this momentarily.
However, in his latest memo, Sullivan includes a curious passage. "[W]e value and have a duty as a free and open university to facilitate access to any and all resources faculty, staff and students believe will be useful for valid research and educational purposes...." Is Take Back Our Campus a "resource... useful for valid research and educational purposes"? Not only are we funny, we also have important things to say. And we're not the only ones who think so.
--In the fall of 2004, "10 Ways to Fight Hate on Campus," a seminar taught by Dr. Margaret Kent Bass, spent several weeks discussing the site. Dr. Bass even assigned her students to write essays about our work.
--TBOC recently (12/4/04) received a nice compliment from Salon.com. [Go here to see the article.]
Writer Richard Bartholomew, in an article about the death of Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia founder Reed Irvine, cites this TBOC! article on the fascist ties of AIM and ex-AIA head (and SLU Republican favorite) Dan Flynn.
--But what's even better than that? The way Bartholomew introduces our blog [along with our Leninist cousin, Ethically Abhorrent (which was blogging about TBOC! in the post to which Bartholomew links)] to his readers. "One aspect of AIM that the reviewers all miss is a rather dodgy connection brought to my attention by blogs Ethically (Abhorrent) and Take Back Our Campus." By "the reviewers," Bartholomew includes none other than the New York Times.
Which campus publication received recognition by a national media outlet? And which campus publication received praise from a national media outlet for covering a story ignored by the New York Times?
The Hill News? Nazza. The Stump? Unless the story was the blind publication of masturbatory poetry, not likely. It was Take Back Our Campus. In ten months, without any kind of funding from SLU (or even a benign attitude-- last Spring, two of our ex-editors were frog-marched by security to isolated offices and forced to give separate written statements about the site without being told exactly which University policies they had violated or what charges were filed against them) our work has been taught in an academic classroom and nationally praised for the caliber of our reportage.
Is there any doubt that Take Back Our Campus is a "resource... useful for valid research and educational purposes"? Want a few more examples?
--This Take Back Our Campus article about the racist origins of the Scholastic Aptitude Test. (Click here to view it.)
--When SLU's Global Studies department was attacked in a FrontPagemag.com article, did anyone on campus bother to investigate the claims? Take Back Our Campus did. And we proved the article a sensational work of intellectually dishonest opportunism. (Click here to read our coverage.)
--When the same FrontPagemag.com article was reposted by the ironically named Students for Academic Freedom, Take Back Our Campus was the first media outlet to expose the link between the self-proclaimed "non-partisan" SAF and the College Republican National Committee. (Click here to read our scoop.)
--When SLU eliminated Upward Bound (a program meant to encourage lower-class children to pursue higher education), we offered a number of articles. (Click here, here and here for our coverage on this tragedy.)
With all that our site has to offer, it seems curious that President Sullivan would choose to impose an on-campus block on TBOC. If this site were really as horrible as he implies, why would he not allow the members of the SLU community to freely access our site and decide for themselves whether or not to continue reading? Surely that would better accord with SLU's stated principle of liberal education.
Instead, the administration has taken a Stalinist stance and rather than respond to criticism or engage in open debate, has attempted to silence any voices critical of SLU policy. The question we must ask ourselves is not whether TBOC will continue (most assuredly, we will), but rather, who's next? Who will next be targeted by a vindictive administration uninterested in free speech and information access? SAGE? The Women's Resource Center? The SLU Republicans? The Sociology department?
By banning TBOC and monitoring e-mails and other personal files, SLU has set a dangerous precedent for academic freedom on campus-- unless the students, staff and faculty of SLU take action.