Profs support paper's independence
By TIM LOGAN
The Faculty Senate thinks some things should change at Notre Dame. It also thinks some things should stay the same.
One thing that should definitely stay the same is The Observer's complete editorial and advertising independence from the University, senators said Wednesday. They voted 20-1 in favor of a resolution saying Notre Dame's student newspaper has done nothing that would warrant the University changing its status.
"We think that nothing has happened in the last 34 years, and nothing happened last year, to justify that," said philosophy professor Ed Manier, who chairs the Student Affairs Committee which proposed the resolution.
The measure passed with very little debate among the whole Senate, which also passed a motion in May asking University President Father Edward Malloy to withdraw his policy banning advertising from homosexual groups in the paper.
Wednesday's resolution said no "modification or further codification of [The Observer's] current status" should be made and that allegations of editorial impropriety against the paper should be dealt with in "good faith" between its editorial board and the offended party, without University intervention.
Members of the Student Affairs Committee said that The Observer's track record was strong enough to maintain their independence, and that no incident had come up justifying a change in that status.
The Observer has been criticized in past years for a few isolated incidents, including a 1997 comic that many Hispanic students found offensive, and an advertisement run in 1993 by a group which denies the Holocaust. But Manier said those events are not enough to warrant placing The Observer under the control of Student Affairs or a faculty advisor.
"The criticism The Observer has taken in the past does not rise to the level of serious charges of editorial irresponsibility or impropriety," he said.
The issue of The Observer's independence has come to the forefront in the past year, since Malloy said the newspaper was not allowed to run ads from homosexual student groups and other organizations that "espouse positions contrary to the moral teaching of the Catholic Church."
Since that policy was set forth in August 1999, The Observer has run several ads from homosexual student and alumni groups, and Malloy has formed an ad hoc committee to study the newspaper's role in the University.
That committee, chaired by philosophy professor David Solomon, is expected to present its report and recommendation to Malloy by the end of the month. The Faculty Senate does not meet again until Oct. 11, and Manier said the timing of Wednesday's vote was intended to give the faculty a voice on the issue before the report is made. The resolution will be sent to Malloy and Solomon.
In other senate news:
u Members voted 22-0 in favor of a resolution calling for more faculty involvement in the reviewing the University president before a contract is renewed. When the Board of Trustees renewed Malloy's contract for five more years in May, it did not consult enough faculty members, senators said.
All News Stories for Thursday, September 7, 2000