I often talk about the need to find the right college and part of that search is looking at the “feel” of a college. That can sometimes be difficult to define but a recent article in Inside Higher Ed illustrates one of the issues to consider.
The administration of St. Louis University, a Catholic university, is changing the charter for the student run newspaper because of stated concerns for the accuracy of the paper as well as financial concerns. The change will give the administration more power in approving articles written for the newspaper. Not surprisingly, the student editors of the paper as well as their faculty advisor, claim that the changes are being made because of criticisms that the newspaper have made regarding actions of the university and its administration.
I don’t personally know the facts of this dispute and they don’t really matter for our purposes. The question is whether a student looking to apply to St. Louis University would be comfortable with the issues surrounding the student newspaper. If you believe that the administration of the university is being heavy handed in their control of the student newspaper, you might want to consider in what other ways the school may infringe on fundamental rights. On the other hand, if you review the student paper and observe the frequent misspellings and the inaccurate information reported you may very well feel that the administration needed to step in to preserve the dignity of the college.
There is no right or wrong answer to how an individual student views a controversy like this. Each student must decide whether freedom of the press outweighs sloppy journalism. But it is issues like this that form the fabric of individual colleges. How each college handles the issue is the issue for the prospective student to examine to see if they would be comfortable in that type of culture.