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Students, Journalists and Public To Protest for Free Speech at Saint Louis University

May 4, 2007 Events/Meetings, Media, Midtown Comments Off on Students, Journalists and Public To Protest for Free Speech at Saint Louis University

Since 1921 the University News has been the student run newspaper at Saint Louis University.  However, trustees may vote to change the charter to take editorial control away from the students.  Students, professional journalists and the public will be exercising their right to protest on Saturday morning (May 5th) at 8:30 a.m.  The protest will take place outside the SLU administration building (DuBourg Hall) at 221 North Grand Ave (Grand & Lindell).


Animations Poke Fun at Saint Louis University, Fr. Biondi

May 3, 2007 Media, Midtown 1 Comment

Back in 2001 a young SLU student (now alumni) created a couple of animations to express his thoughts about Saint Louis University, the tuition rate, the campus and yes, even Fr. Biondi. In light of the recent issues over funding of the arena and control of the student newspaper I thought it would be fun to share these with you.

Thankfully the animator’s younger brother, in seminary at Kenrick, has uploaded the two flash videos for everyone’s amusement. Click here to view the videos and to read what inspired them. So, my thanks to Joel & Jeff Geerling.

Remember folks, this is just satire…


Biondi & Lay Board To Take Over SLU Student Newspaper (Updated)

May 2, 2007 Media 22 Comments

Not content running the athletics program at Saint Louis University, Fr Biondi seems to want to get more involved in the student newspaper. It is not uncommon for a university President to dislike the student newspaper as often they may not back the administration fully. The point of journalism, even on a university campus, is to present all sides of an issue — even those counter to administrators.
Basically the university wants to change the charter so they control the editorial advisory board, and hence the viewpoint of the paper. As lessons go, this might be good for the students in this day of corporate media conglomerates.

I received the following, written by someone close to the situation:

Today, April 30, the Editorial Board of the University News and the current and newly-elected presidents of the Student Government Association met with the Vice President of Student Development Kent Porterfield and Provost Joe Weixlmann. (Dr. Avis Meyer, the “unofficial adviser” of the U.News and my attorney Tim E. Hogan were asked to leave before the meeting began, or Weixlmann refused to conduct the meeting. They waited outside). The aforementioned students were then given two options:

1. That the students who want to write for an independent U.News would be allowed to do so, possibly under a different name that would be located off-campus, and would not be supported financially by the University. Existing debts to the University would have to be paid in full, and any monies in the current University News account would be subject to “a conversation” as to whether or not they would be given to this independent entity. There would be “some distribution rights on-campus.” It was not clear as to whether or not there would be a future for this independent paper after current members of the Editorial Board graduate.

2. Should the students choose to be involved in a “University-sponsored” publication, operated on behalf of the University, those students and that paper would operate under a new charter. The charter, for all intents and purposes, is similar to the current charter, in that the paper would be semi-independent, and the administration is responsible for appointing an adviser, and members to the advisory board. This paper can adopt its own constitution and bylaws, and is expected to uphold the “Jesuit Catholic” mission statement of the University. The Board of Trustees will no longer hold the charter; and will not have to vote on any changes to the organization. The charter creates a new position of a Student Media Coordinator, who oversees the Newspaper Production Adviser (the latter of which will be selected with “input” from the editorial staff, the advisory board, the VP of Student Development, and the Student Media Coordinator). The advisory board become strictly advisory in nature, and no longer has the ability to vote on anything affecting the U.News. The caveat? The Editorial Board and the Editor in Chief will be nominated by the Advisory Board to the VP of Student Development, and the VP will either approve the nomination or request another recommendation be submitted. The VP of Student Development can also dismiss or suspend any student editor for “misconduct or failure to perform their responsibilites adequately.” In essence, the entire editorial staff of the paper will be University employees, at the whim of the VP of Student Development.

The Ed Board asked may questions, and the gist of the conversation was this: The students must individually choose which publication they would rather work for, and report back before the end of the University’s fiscal year which is June 30th. Regardless, the Board of Trustees will vote to rescind the current charter of the University News and then this new charter will be held and upheld ONLY by the Office of Student Development. While the new charter stresses the independance of the paper, the hiring and firing of the editors makes the paper beholden to the University, and will instill great fear in the hearts of the students.

As a SLU student I fully support a paper which remains free of interference from the administration. Otherwise, you simply have a paper that is nothing but a fluff PR piece. The university puts out enough fluff already either through their own means or publications like the St. Louis Business Journal (one sided pieces on the arena tax issue). This is a simply power grab and an attempt to squash independent thought.

The Alumni from U. News are organizing in protest, I received a copy of this email:

Fellow U. News alumni,

On Monday afternoon the student editors of the University News were summoned to a meeting with Provost Joe Weixlmann and VP-Student Development Kent Porterfield. At the meeting, which Avis Meyer was not allowed to attend the meeting, the students were presented with a new charter for the paper that would be put before the university trustees this week.

As most of you know, the newspaper’s independence from administrative interference is guaranteed in the existing charter. The proposed charter, however, would allow university administrators to wield an unbelievable amount of control over the student press.

For instance, any candidates for editor positions would have to be approved first by an advisory board appointed by the university, and then the presumptive editor would have to be approved by the VP for Student Development before taking the position. And those editors, if they upset the university through the paper’s news coverage or editorial positions, could be removed at will by the university.

Also, the university will solely be in charge of selecting the advisor, and have a strong suspicion that Avis Meyer will not be SLU’s preferred choice.

Most troubling, especially for an institution of higher learning, it looks like SLU will not allow the student editors or anyone else to be present during the trustee’s deliberations to argue in favor of the existing charter.

The trustees’ executive committee will vote on the proposal on Thursday. I’m not sure if this would require a vote of the full board, but if it does that would happen on Friday.

Diana Benanti, the very capable editor of the paper, has asked for the alumni to help out and raise hell. Here’s what you can do:

1. Pass this email on to all the folks that I have forgotten. [Or pass this post along to others]

2. Call SLU. Here are the relevant numbers – VP-Student Development Kent Porterfield (314-977-2226); Provost Joe Weixlmann (314-977-3718); the Rev. President Lawrence Biondi (314-977-7777). [Link to SLU Administration page]

3. Contact the trustees. I don’t have numbers, but if you know any of these folks or do business with them, call them. Hopefully some enterprising you U Newsers will supply us old cranks with some phone numbers for these pezzonovanti.

Mr. Barry H. Beracha, Chairman
Ms. Robin Smith, Vice Chair
Mr. J. Joseph Adorjan
Mr. John S. Alberici
Rev. Andy Alexander, S.J.
Mr. Richard D. Baron
Rev. Lawrence Biondi, S.J.
Mr. William A. Blase, Jr.
Mr. Oliver C. Boileau
Mr. Thomas H. Brouster
Rev. Richard O. Buhler, S.J.
Rev. James J. Burshek, S.J.
Mr. Robert G. Clark
Mr. Larry Cockell
Mr. John M. Cook
Mr. Gerald E. Daniels
J. Daniel Daly, S.J.
Mr. Charles L. Drury, Sr.
Mr. Thomas P. Dunne, Sr.
Mr. L. B. Eckelkamp, Jr.
Mr. Robert N. Fox
Dr. Eva L. Frazer
Mr. Shaun R. Hayes
Mr. Joseph Imbs, III
Rev. James G. Knapp, S.J.
Mr. Al Litteken
Mrs. Mary V. Longrais
Mr. Paul G. Lorenzini
Rev. Keith F. Muccino, S.J.
Rev. Robert L. Niehoff, S.J.
Mr. Tony Novelly
Dr. Francis O’Donnell, Jr.
Mr. Michael D. O’Keefe
Mr. G. Keith Phoenix
Mr. John K. Pruellage
Mr. Daniel A. Rodrigues
Mr. W. Michael Ross
Mr. James A. Saitz
Mr. Rex A. Sinquefield
Mr. Patrick J. Sly
Mr. James T. Smith
Ms. Martha S. Uhlhorn
Daniel P. White, S.J.

4. Send a letter to editor to the U. News for this week’s edition. And do it quickly as they’re going to be plenty busy this week dealing with this, putting out a paper and getting ready for the approaching final exams.

I ask that all SLU students and alumni contact the univeristy administration immediately to speak out against this injustice. Not an alumni? That is OK, let them know you are member of the community and you want free press to continue on campus. Better yet, tell them you won’t buy a ticket to an event at the new arena if the university siezes control of the student paper.

UPDATE 5/2/2007 @ 8:30pm:

The St. Louis Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, of which I am a board member, has issued a statement on this issue. Click here to read what area journalists think of this controversy.


Patterson On KDHX (88.1) Monday

April 6, 2007 Media 5 Comments

I will be a guest on KDHX’s “Collateral Damage” program Monday (April 9, 2007) with hosts DJ Wilson and Fred Hessel, 7pm at 88.1. You can also subscribe to Collateral Damage free via iTunes. Monday we will be discussing some of the latest local topics. If you have some suggestions or questions please list them below.


Pre-Election Recap: French & Patterson on KDHX Monday 7pm

March 2, 2007 Media Comments Off on Pre-Election Recap: French & Patterson on KDHX Monday 7pm

St. Louis’ municipal primary is Tuesday so on Monday evening Antonio French of PubDef and myself will be guests on KDHX’s Collateral Damage program hosted by DJ Wilson & Fred Hessel.  Tune into 88.1FM at 7pm on Monday 3/5/07 for discussion of the candidates.