EDITORIAL: Hot On the Press


Sometimes the media presents things that all people may not agree with, including those people who are in a position of power. One of the many great things about living in the United States is that those members of media do not have to worry about persecution because of the rights given to all in the first amendment.

Of course, there are libel laws that prevent the spreading of inaccurate or inappropriate information being published about people or groups. But for the most part, members of the media should be able say or write freely, without fear of reprisal. This free movement of information allows all opinions from all parts of our great country to be heard, as they should be.

It is with great regret, though, to report that we believe a member of the Spectra staff had their freedom of the press rights infringed on, here on the campus of Siena Heights University.

After reading a column regarding the effectiveness of some of the committees on campus, Student Government President Bailey Schwartz invited our columnist, Luc Schumm, in for a meeting to discuss the contents of the column. In the invitation, Schwartz also tagged several University administrators and the rest of the Student Government in the email. However, she did not include or notify the Spectra advisor or editor.

The purpose of a column is for the author to give an opinion for the readers to consider about the world around them. This particular column discussed the perceived shortcomings of some of the committees on campus. This particular column did not name any one person – it was inappropriate – and it did not come close to violating libel laws. It was one person’s opinion.

Apparently, the Student Government president did not agree with what was written, and we believe she used her position of power to try to intimidate – and potentially punish – our writer in an attempt to stop any future negative media towards the committees on campus.

If she was truly interested in giving her opinion on the piece, she has the ability to write a letter to the editor. In fact, during that meeting, our columnist offered that option to her. That invitation remains.

In fact, if any readers of Spectra have an opinion about any of our published content, we invite you to write a letter to the editor and we will gladly post it. We would ask that you include your name with your comment so that we can credit the comment to you. We do not publish anonymous letters.

Unfortunately, we believe Schwartz has used her position and office to try to infringe on freedom of the press. On a campus that promotes a competent, purposeful and ethical student population, it is a shame that this attempt to silence – and punish – a columnist occurred.

Our hope is that this can be a teachable moment for the Siena community on the importance of freedom of the press and being able to have respectful disagreements in an open forum.

“A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” – John F. Kennedy