Auburn honors newsletter discards student editorials
\nALABAMA - Students at Auburn University's Honors College\nwill no longer be using the college's official newsletter to voice\ntheir opinions. Administrators and students in the college voted\nin May to eliminate student editorials from the program's Honors\nEagle newsletter.
Brad Carmack, student editor of the Honors Eagle, claimed\nthat interim College Director Jack Rogers and honors student leaders\ndecided to pull the editorials because of "negative expressions"\nthey said the writings conveyed.
"I vehemently disagreed with the revisions," Carmack\nwrote in a letter to the university's student newspaper, The Auburn\nPlainsman. "The move caused me to once again question whether\nthe Honors College represents intellectual values such as the\nnecessity of challenging the status quo."
Carmack said one of his central goals when he assumed the position\nof Honors Eagle editor in the spring of 1998 was to include\nmore opinion-based articles by both faculty and students in an\neffort to increase readership.
"The newsletter has been pretty boring in the past and\nkind of a joke," Carmack said. "I wanted it to be more\ninteresting and thought the newsletter should reflect the qualities\nof sophistication, critical thinking and debate that are a part\nof the Honors College."
According to Carmack, the editorial pieces were condemned by\nRogers and students on the Honors Congress for what they referred\nto as the articles' negative slants.
"[Rogers and the Honors Congress] said many of the editorials\nwere just too negative and some, they claimed, constituted personal\nattacks," Carmack said.
Rogers, however, said the tone of the opinion pieces had nothing\nto do with the Honors Congress' decision to pull the editorials,\nbut the central problem was that Carmack had lost sight of the\noriginal goal of the Honors Eagle--to discuss the activities\nand events of the Honors College.
"It got to the point where these activities were not being\nreported," Rogers said. "For example, I asked [Carmack]\nto report on the student representatives that were elected by\nthe student congress, and he would not do that because it conflicted\nwith the articles of opinion that he wanted to include."
The 1999 spring quarter issue of the Honors Eagle originally\ncontained 17 articles. The list was cut to 13 by Rogers and the\nHonors Congress after Carmack showed them an advance copy of the\nlayout.
Carmack approved the revisions because he "doubted that\na personal crusade on behalf of the First Amendment would serve\nthe interests of Auburn University," he wrote in his letter\nto the Plainsman. He did, however, remove his name as editor from\nthe issue after the cuts were made.
According to Carmack, Rogers and the Honors Congress had no\nlegal authority to pull the editorials, and the publication's\nconstitution provided him with sole editorial control. Carmack\ndeclined, however, to seek legal action against his opponents,\nalthough he said it was an option.
"The newsletter only goes out to 600 to 700 people on\na campus of 25,000," Carmack said. "For me, psychologically,\n[suing the school] would be trying to make a huge issue out of\nsomething really small."
While the newsletter will no longer contain student editorials,\nthe faculty opinion column will remain, Carmack said.
"Auburn has a lot of problems with administrators who\ntend not to be very progressive in their outlooks," Carmack\nsaid. "No one cares about things like expression, creativity\nand intellectual values because they are not rewarded"
The censored and uncensored versions of the spring 1999 issue of the Honors Eagle can be read online at http://www.auburn.edu/~carmabl/honors.html
Fall 1999, reports