Portland’s Ministry Director on Student Newsroom Takeover: ‘Not Trying to Gloat, But We Won This One’

As I reported earlier this week, the student newspaper at the University of Portland is being evicted from its offices in the school’s student center to make room for professional staff overseeing a campus religious group.  Portland administrators apparently decided upon the shift without consulting the paper’s staff.

The Oregonian‘s Steve Duin has now waded into the controversy.  In a column published yesterday, headlined “University of Portland Journalism Takes a Hit,” Duin contended, “If a pricey college education affords you the ability to distinguish insult from injury, editors and reporters at the University of Portland’s student newspaper got their money’s worth last week when they were evicted from the newsroom that has been the staff’s think tank and sanctuary for 30 years.”

There are two especially compelling quotes in Duin’s piece.  They both, in their own words, state simply, “Life’s tough, kids.”  The first, from a University of Portland admin.: “I recognize this has been an emotional experience for [The Beacon], and a sense of loss.  I also recognize that we’re having to consolidate and make better use of the space we have.”

The second, from Father Gary Chamberland, the director of UP’s Campus Ministry, which is taking over the newsroom space: “I’m not trying to be gloating, but we won this one.”  (One problem here Father Chamberland: The paper didn’t know it was competing– the school didn’t tell student staffers about a potential move.  Duin: “[U]ntil now, I suspect, [the students] assumed the priests’ role at UP was to advocate for them in this fallen world, not root against them.”)

Separately, a trusted source tells me the sudden newsroom eviction is indicative of a larger unilateral decision-making culture at the school: “This is not the only student life change that has been made without student and staff input.  For example, in Residence Life, the following things were changed without student and staff input (there was an un-publicized, invite-only meeting with the Vice President of the school, with only a few selected students): the Resident Assistant selection process, housing selection, duty for Hall Directors, and the amount of decorations on Hall Directors’ doors, to name a few.  There was a student forum, after the changes were announced,  in which questions were asked but never answered.”

Related

At University of Portland, ‘Campus Ministry Forces Student Media Out’

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