Chancellor protects campus paper's funding

Publication survives student government's threats to cut budget

WISCONSIN -- The chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh intervened in a dispute between the student association and the student newspaper in October, preventing the association from stripping the newspaper of its funding.

University Chancellor Richard Wells told the Oshkosh Student Association it could not take away the Advance-Titan's student organization status, thus allowing the paper to keep its funding. Student editors say the paper would have been unable to survive without this funding.

"There was no way that under my watch I was going to allow the student press not to exist," Wells said. "The value of a free press, free speech, academic freedom and artistic expressions are core, sacred values of an open society. The University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh does not, has not and will not ever tolerate any form of censorship in our community."

According to an Oct. 13 Associated Press article, the student association criticized the Advance-Titan, saying it lacked coverage of student issues and that it lacked standards for the length of editorials. The association also complained about the "gripe line," a list of phoned-in student complaints. One gripe in particular that upset the members of the student association was a student disclosing another studentís sexual orientation to the campus and the studentís family.

"We just wanted them to be a little more receptive to student concerns," said Chris Samz, president of the student association.

The Titan was able to keep its more than $8,000 budget after Wells stepped in on the paper's behalf.

To end the struggle, the Titan and the association agreed to hold a joint forum where students and faculty could voice their concerns about campus communication.

According to Monty McMahon, the managing editor for the Titan, the forum was uneventful.

"I thought it was a waste of time," McMahon said. "I didn't think we accomplished anything. There were only a handful of students, very few of whom were members of the student association."

reports, Winter 2000-01