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Faculty Used Academic Hierarchy to Censor Student Press

By Adam Zaki

Published: October 18th, 2017

When I was made aware that an event was taking place in a Brooklyn College class last Wednesday that was newsworthy, I asked the class’ instructor to see if I could get access to the individuals and sources necessary to make for a good story. Less than 24 hours after my request, I was “kindly” asked not to cover this event, through a faculty member, by Brooklyn College administration.

This story has no ramifications for the college, but my request was denied simply because I wanted to cover a story about a specific department attempting to get funding, and student press would raise questions that would put the department’s chair in an “awkward position.”

If I was granted access to sources for this story, students would have benefited from knowing that the college is taking steps towards their interest, but those who represent Brooklyn College have requested that I keep this information from you in order to keep landing funds and making “secret” requests to potential donors under wraps.

Department chairs and faculty members have all acted as elements of the press in some capacity as a part of their studies. Those with scholarly titles and achievements must know that a transparent and well-functioning press is extremely beneficial to any community, and to diminish a student newspaper for the fear of questions being raised should have these administrators questioning themselves.

This is an insult to the integrity of all the work done by student journalists, and it is ironically counter-productive to the particular department in question, as well as The Excelsior. The publication of this piece you’re reading may raise more questions than the coverage of the actual event itself.

Technically, I could disregard the department’s request as per my first amendment right and cover the event as I see fit. However, the individuals making this request hold positions that have influence in my path here at Brooklyn College, which puts me, as a student and a journalist, in an awkward position as well. Do I do what the courses designed by Brooklyn College faculty tell me—“Seek truth soundly and ethically by practicing within the constitutional right granted to the press”—or do I abide by this request and knowingly allow censorship to take place in order to preserve my wellbeing as a student?

There are things being done here at Brooklyn College that administration would like to keep from students, and I can make this assumption because of the censoring of non-vital information that took place. If administrators and department chairs don’t want stories—which have no detrimental impacts on any individuals or departments in particular—being publicized solely for the fear of questions being raised, how can we grant any sense of credibility to the administrators that govern these departments?

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