New York newspaper in battle for space
Conservative student publication struggles for distribution room on crowded campus
NEW YORK — Extra space is hard to find in New York City, especially, it seems, if you’re a conservative student newspaper at New York University.
Jeff Barea, editor and publisher of The Village Alternative, an independent student newspaper at NYU, claims the newspaper is having difficulty finding places to distribute on campus.
Barea said the university last spring allowed the student senate to ban the newspaper from several buildings in direct violation of university policy.
Distribution of The Village Alternative, a registered student organization, has been prohibited from at least six buildings on NYU1s campus. In some cases the paper has been vandalized as well.
University policy says, “Local offices may designate areas within University facilities for the distribution of literature or other materials by students as long as such activity does not (a)impede the flow of traffic or (b)disrupt the normal functions of the facility.”
Herb London, NYU professor and faculty adviser for the newspaper, said the university claims The Village Alternative newsstands would threaten security in some way and disrupt the flow of traffic coming in and out of the buildings.
London says he is suspicious of the university’s claim but that does not mean the university is wrong.
“If they want to get rid of a newspaper, they should get rid of the Village Voice and allow room for student publications,” London said.
Barea said that although The Village Alternative is not permitted to be distributed in several campus buildings, many of those same buildings allow commercial publications, such as the Village Voice, which is not a student newspaper, to be distributed.
“A vast majority of space given to publications is given to off-campus publications,” Barea said. “We don’t try to create trouble, we try to produce a professional looking newspaper that provides a place all opinions can be explored.”
“This is a very fine group of young people who want to start a conservative newspaper,” he said. “It is important to have another voice on campus.”
The university first removed one of The Village Alternative’s news stands displaying a McDonalds’ advertisement saying newsstands with commercial advertising were not permitted in campus buildings.
The newspaper removed the advertisement but were still told they could not distribute.
Barea said he thinks the university’s unwillingness to allow the newspaper to distribute on campus is in direct relation to the fact that it provides a relatively conservative student voice.
“[The Village Alternative] is by no means offensive,” Barea said. “It is, however, the only even remotely conservative presence on campus.”
The school administration left the decision of whether to allow the distribution of The Village Alternative to the student senate, which, Barea said is also a violation of the university policy. The student senate voted to ban the publication from campus buildings.
The student senate is supposed to advise on how campus space is distributed, but they do not have the final decision, Barea said.
Pam Bolen, director of student life and of the student center, who London and Barea said has been involved on the university’s side of the issue, said she did not know The Village Alternative was still publishing.
Both Barea and London confirmed the newspaper has been publishing every week.
“We are a major force on campus and that’s their problem with us,” Barea said. “When we were small, they were happy to give us space.”
The Alternative’s circulation is about 10,000.
“I hope this is a security problem and no more,” London said. “I hope this is not an invasion of free speech.”
The newspaper has not filed any legal claim against the private university yet, but it has asked the Individual Rights Foundation in California to file a civil suit against the university to force administration to follow university policies. The foundation is still considering the request.
reports, Winter 1997-98