Will UNLV’s Rebel Yell Really Shut Down Fall Semester?

The fight over control of the editor selection process at The Rebel Yell is now a sustained, full-throated scream.  Come Monday, it may even temporarily shut the paper down.

The student government, the Board of Regents, and the student newspaper at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, have been engaged in a regulatory battle royale for more than a month to determine who gets to choose the next editor-in-chief.

Since the mid-1990s, a special advisory board connected with the paper– comprised of j-profs, media pros, and students– has annually approved each new EIC.  But awhile back UNLV’s Board of Regents changed some higher-level rules about university governance– one “unintended consequence” was placing the student government in charge of editor selection.  The switch appears to have been entirely accidental and buried in regulations no one read or knew about, literally no one– not the paper, the Board of Regents, the advisory board or the SG.  Three years passed, without any changes to the process, and with no complaints.

Then, at random, the slip is spotted.  The battle begins– some action and lots of talk.  UNLV lawyers have voided the selection of the Rebel Yell’s most recent editor-in-chief.  The school’s SG president is flip-flopping.  More than a week ago, he told The Las Vegas Sun, “The idea that we’re supposed to fund half the budget and they don’t want us appointing the editor-in-chief because of independence is laughable.”  Now, he is saying, “My end goal is to ensure that the Rebel Yell is both independent and free from student government control.”

Atop that confusion– and with no official rule changes or a permanent top editor– the paper’s advisory board is set to vote Monday on possibly suspending the paper come fall semester if the EIC selection process is not placed once again under its sole purview.

The shutdown is meant to ensure that the paper does not operate under even the scent of outside editorial control.  A UNLV j-prof: “We don’t have the County Commission or City Council selecting editors of the Review-Journal.  And the president of the United States certainly doesn’t get to pick the editor of the New York Times. You need the media, the press, to be the watchdog of the government.”

Stay tuned.

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