SGA Orders Newspaper to ‘Take a Break,’ Suspends Funding

Late last month, the Student Government Association at Mansfield University voted to immediately and indefinitely suspend funding for The Flashlight student newspaper.

According to a Williamsport Sun-Gazette report, the SGA at the Mansfield, Pa., school went so far as to tell the campus weekly to “take a break” and has set up a “restructuring committee” to decide the paper’s fate.

The Flashlight did publish one additional issue after the ruling, but is now on a forced hiatus.  Without SGA funding, the paper’s advertising revenue reserves would enable it to print for roughly a month before going bankrupt.

The SGA has not given Flashlight editors or faculty adviser a clear explanation about the need for either the sudden funding freeze or the full-blown “restructuring committee,” which I’m dubbing the SCC, or student censorship club.  (Seriously, it sounds like something out of Fahrenheit 451).

The student government has cited only “numerous complaints” as the reason for its heinous actions.  When pressed by Flashlight staff, it offered the following “statement of clarification”: “[I]t was formally brought to the attention of the Senate that the Flashlight had not fulfilled the obligations laid out in their budget’s condition and additionally was violating Article III, Section 2, Item B of the student government bylaws which state that in order to be recognized as a student organization, the organization must ‘Exhibit sound organizational structure and provide documentation of such to the Senate.'”

Follow that?  No additional information has been provided.

My statement of clarification: This is Censorship, with a big, fat capital C. The SGA must drop its freeze, disband its censorship committee, and allow the Flashlight to publish immediately and without fear of future reprisals.

Student newspapers provide an extraordinary service to their campuses. Sometimes, they screw up.  And there is beauty in that, considering they are vehicles for learning as well as outlets providing news.  If concerned about content, write a letter to the editor. Grab the EIC for an off-the-record chat.  Arrange a formal sitdown with the e-board and faculty adviser.  But don’t abuse the power that comes with holding the pursestrings.

2 Responses to “SGA Orders Newspaper to ‘Take a Break,’ Suspends Funding”
  1. Michael Westendorf says:

    This is exactly why SGAs should have nothing to do with student newspapers.

    Independence, folks!

  2. Gary Metzker says:

    The Student Press Law Center should get involved with this case.