Samuel Northrup, Editor-In-Chief
It is a sad day when any news organization or member of the free press is censored, gagged or suppressed.
Unfortunately, that day has come at Utica College.
In the last week, there have been multiple instances of students intentionally ripping up or destroying copies of last week’s issue of The Tangerine. The students in question did this as “retaliation” after an article was published explaining the report that Professor Bernard Hyman released following his investigation into a confrontation between two students and a Campus Safety officer on March 1 in Strebel.
To those students — we know of at least two of you — you have stolen and damaged institutional property, which is in direct violation of the Utica College Code of Student Conduct. Additionally, those who have attempted newspaper censorship through theft have been prosecuted in courts throughout the country.
And make no mistake, The Tangerine has begun taking action.
Our staff recognizes that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, especially on a college campus where the sharing of knowledge and experience is imperative. But lashing out in a destructive manner against any news entity violates that free flow of responsible information and speech that is needed now more than ever in American society. This is no different even at a small institution like Utica College.
Destruction of The Tangerine also deprives other students, faculty and staff on campus who look to The Tangerine as a source for the news that impacts their daily lives at UC. Last week, for example, a student in the theater major reached out to The Tangerine’s faculty advisor because she wanted to read an article that was written about Strebel Auditorium. Unfortunately, she could not find any other newspapers around the campus — I wonder why?
Between writing, editing, graphic design and distribution, The Tangerine’s 20 staff members put in a combined total of hundreds of hours of work each week to publish a quality newspaper. So it is frustrating and disheartening to hear that students intentionally prevented the hard work of the staff from being shared with the campus.
Regarding the article that has caused such outrage among this small group of students, I have to ask myself the following questions: Did these students even read the article before they stole and destroyed the papers? Did they actually read Professor Hyman’s report to completion? And if they did, were they so blinded by their desire to get the answer they wanted to hear that they closed themselves off to the possibility their conclusion of what happened in Strebel may be wrong?
Several of our reporters have even reached out to students who vocally disagree with Hyman’s findings, but they have not gotten a response back.
The article, titled “No evidence of assault in Strebel: Investigation finds Campus Safety officer did not use excessive force,” was essentially a summary of the seven-page report that was written by Hyman and distributed to the entire campus via email by the office of President Laura Casamento. It was in no way The Tangerine’s own opinion or conclusion of the incident that took place in Strebel on March 1.
After the events of the previous weeks, it is clear that some students are more concerned about hearing answers they agree with with no concern for right or wrong. In the case of the Strebel incident, they were most likely expecting and hoping that Professor Hyman’s report would conclude that the use of force was motivated by some sort of deep racism fostered by Campus Safety and, by extension, Utica College as a whole.
Rather than taking the high road by meeting and voicing their concerns with President Casamento and other college officials, these students decided to take their frustrations out on The Tangerine by destroying printed copies of the paper in an act of censorship — all because they did not get the conclusions they wanted from Hyman’s investigation.
As an independent newsource, we do not draw conclusions on matters such as the March 1 incident in Strebel — we report on facts, not conjecture.
You can read the article detailing Professor Bernard Hyman’s report here.