Will They Literally Use Mace, Pepper Spray or Police to Subdue Him?

August 29: University News editors at St. Louis University in Missouri have weighed in via an editorial about the sad, intriguing, ongoing dispute between the newspaper’s former adviser and the university’s administration.

 

It is a complicated back-and-forth. The basics: Administrators have ordered longtime University News adviser, faculty member Avis Meyer, to stay out of the newsroom. According to a July St. Louis Post-Dispatch report, Meyer has no plans to back down, citing physical force might be necessary to keep him from entering the News base of operations. The fight seems to center on an administrative decision last spring to rewrite the paper’s charter. The administrators said it was to create a better newspaper. Some student journalists worried at the time it was an attempt to control content. So Meyer set up a nonprofit corporation using the names The University News and SLU just in case student editors wanted or needed to move off-campus to continue publishing. Students eventually decided to accept the school-mandated charter changes and Meyer disbanded the corporation. But the school filed a copyright and trademark infringement lawsuit in October 2007 ensuring its registered names would not be used.

 

It has gotten nastier from there. Meyer even charges that his removal stems, at least in part, from the critical coverage the newspaper has given in the past to the administration and the university president specifically.

 

Now a new adviser is in place and administrators have become concerned Meyer’s sometimes-conflicting comments are creating tension and confusing student reporters and editors. In an e-mail to Meyer, the university provost wrote, “I will be forced to take actions to block your access to the newsroom.”

 

Wow. This is a tough situation, and one that undoubtedly runs deeper and is more complicated than what the press is reporting. For their part, University News editors stated in an editorial in their first issue: “We welcome Meyer to the newsroom. We value his wisdom and perspective. We relish his knowledge and connections. We enjoy his presence and camaraderie. We respect the time that he contributes and his editing skills. We are proud of his insight and fearlessness. . . . The administration might be able to keep Meyer from the newsroom while the paper is being produced, but they cannot keep his ever-present spirit from continuing to inspire us.”

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