On April 2, prospective students accompanied by guardians visited Ohio Wesleyan University. We imagine there were plenty of welcoming faces, plenty of pamphlets, fliers, ads for clubs to join and tour guides – all providing a wealth of information.
But there was one thing missing from the Hamilton-Williams Campus Center: the Ohio Wesleyan student newspaper, The Transcript.
An employee, who university spokesperson Cole Hatcher would not identify to the Columbus Dispatch, decided without consent from a superior that it would be in the best interest of the university not to let the visitors see the papers. The employee had a problem with The Transcript’s front page content.
In the Thursday issue was a story about a graduation tradition at Wesleyan in which soon-to-be graduates drink two alcoholic (or non-alcoholic if they choose) drinks a day for the 50 days leading to their big good-bye. Plain and simple, it’s a story about a tradition. It does not put the tradition in a proud or poor light, and it doesn’t mention anything about students getting ridiculously drunk for those last 50 days.
The story was even flanked by a brief on a Take Back the Night event and dorm surveillance. Seems like a pretty normal paper to us. But because of one man’s decision that this paper was just too much unnecessary information for the visitors and could possibly keep students from attending the college – he tossed out one of the best pieces of literature prospective students and guardians could have.
All the usual pamphlets and fliers available to students when they visit a university are specifically for the event. It’s easy to find out what the university itself thinks of the dorms or its courses, but the opinion that matters is student opinion. The topics that matter are the topics students choose to cover – and the only place to get both is the student newspaper.
Not only will it cover the topics of everyday life at the university, it also doesn’t put together special editions for those days when prospective students come to town. They look at that day like every other day, and for a high schooler to pick up something that truly represents what everyday school life looks like then it will give them a much better idea of what they’re getting into. University-sponsored literature sugarcoats university life sometimes. Student literature won’t – or at least it shouldn’t.
The university apologized to The Transcript and plans to reimburse it for the disposed newspapers, disputed to be anywhere from 100 to 200. That sounds well and good now, but we can bet there are at least a few kids and parents who visited Wesleyan that Thursday who feel a bit cheated out of some valuable information that wasn’t available to them on a day that helps them make a pretty important life decision.
The full article in The Transcript that caused an employee to throw away copies of the paper is available online at http://transcript.owu.edu.
The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.