This is a followup story. I think the original is behind the pay fence.
In 2001 (years ago), I began my campus job working in admissions. I stayed there the entire time I was a student. I was supposed to be a tour guide but I refused and my manager, who I really need to visit, managed to make me her personal assistant and no one said anything about it. Anyway, every now and then, I would get some sort of quasi-tour guide duty. During an open house in the administration building my freshman year before I started working for the paper, someone made a comment about needing to get The Captain’s Log out of the lobby before the prospective students arrived. I thought nothing of it at the time but, over the years, it stuck with me.
After I joined the CLOG staff, I noticed when I had to work prospective student events, it was hard to find a copy of the paper. We knew someone from the administration had been ordering their removal but we couldn’t prove it. We even had someone stake out one of the boxes. During another one, I think we went out of our way to restock some of the boxes.
Fast forward to 2012. They get caught removing the papers. A front page story involved the discovery of a meth lab on campus recently. It had been in the state news at least. Obviously, it looks bad for the school for that to be around campus with parents and students around but, as one of my fraternity brothers said, if I were a parent, I would be more concerned about not seeing a campus paper with that in it if I had heard about it before.
Of course, no one owns up to ordering the paper removal. Former Sen. Paul Seward Trible Jr. condemns the act and says people would be disciplined. He hasn’t talked to the paper directly as of when I’m posting this. Here is a copy of a campus-wide email sent earlier today by President Trible.
Recently I learned that university employees, acting on their own initiative, removed copies of The Captain’s Log from newspaper distribution stands. When a senior university official was notified of this action, he ordered that the newspapers be found and returned immediately.
This action was taken by young employees who love CNU and were concerned that a newspaper article would create a bad impression for visiting prospective students. Their actions were inappropriate and they will be disciplined in accordance with university procedures. The University will not comment further on these personnel matters.
The Captain’s Log is free to write anything it pleases and CNU fully respects the freedom of the press. The University expressly condemns this conduct and these actions do not reflect the custom, policy or practice of the University.
Where do I start? This isn’t an isolated incident. This initiative is at least 10 years old. I can assure you I can get more than a few former staff members to swear that papers always have disappeared in advance of prospective student events, even when the cover stories weren’t provocative. Of course the papers were ordered to be returned. They were caught. Of course they won’t comment on what discipline will happen. Although the good senator says CNU respects the freedom of the press, I’ve had a fellow SPJ member say to me that it seems like the university is shooting for a trampling of the first amendment award for this academic year.
It’s great that I can say I talked to Virginia SPJ members. I did that last year when the trouble with Trible began anew. The difference between the early 2000s and now is that the CLOG has support. When we were undergrads, we had some contacts at the Daily Press and the Virginian-Pilot but we were a little rudderless when it came to denial of our Freedom of Information Act requests and other actions from the school. Recently, we former staffers formed an unofficial alumni association and we’ve encouraged those at CLOG now throughout this ridiculous ordeal this year that included the journalism program all but not existing anymore. I’m glad we did. Who knows what could have happened this year if we weren’t there for them in a coordinated fashion.
CLOG staffers aren’t meddling kids trying to cause trouble. They are real journalists. We have people working in television, print, radio and online after graduation. We are reporters, editors, producers, Society of Professional Journalists members and we have the ears of the Virginia Press Association and the Student Press Law Center. We’ve gone on to take on organizations that makes CNU administration look like child’s play. The CLOG isn’t some club. It is the incubator of our careers and we haven’t forgotten that.
We’re not going to let Christopher Newport University forget that either.
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