Bryce Randall, Contributing Writer
It was a Wednesday afternoon. I had just finished class and was making my way to a Commonwealth Times kiosk to pick up this week’s paper. So, imagine my surprise when I walked up to three different kiosks, only to find them completely empty.
Then, I saw the story. Members of the Student Government Association had completely cleared out copies of the paper throughout the Monroe Park campus. Ah, don’t you love a classic case of censorship?
Could you even begin to imagine the horror that would have followed if the president of the United States started throwing out copies of The Washington Post? Oh wait, we all know about the Nixon presidency. All of us, aside from those members of SGA.
I could feel my blood boiling as I read the story. The audacity of campus leaders to dictate what can and cannot be seen by other students — these are the people the student body elected to office, the people who are meant to serve us and represent us.
In case they’re unaware, The Commonwealth Times is an independent student-run publication. We, just like SGA, have the wellbeing of the student body in mind. The news story that ran on Wednesday detailed the conflicts and personal issues rooted within the organization’s leadership. I can attest that news editor Hannah Eason reached out to all names mentioned in the story multiple times, but some did not respond for comment.
I’m not a news writer, so I had no connection to the writing and reporting of the SGA story that caused so much controversy. However, I am a contributing writer for the opinions section of the paper. So, let me reiterate this to any member who threw away our papers: You didn’t restrict the story, you just hurt more than a dozen other people who worked diligently to get the paper out. The story was on the front page of the paper. There were 11 other pages you damaged in your censorship vendetta.
Listen, I truly don’t care about your personal problems with the story that ran, but I mean this wholeheartedly: Grow up. We are not children, you cannot attack an entire publication by throwing away all of our papers. If you didn’t like what was written, there were plenty of appropriate reactions such as writing a letter to the editor, reaching out to the news section or a really crazy idea — to have actually responded to Eason’s questions prior to the publication of the story.
Censorship of the press doesn’t do anything but heighten the situation. For example, this SGA story would not have blown up as much if some of its members didn’t throw away the papers. The attempt at censorship is what intrigued people to read it. Because of the limited amount of papers, people have been more active about picking them up. Not to mention, all stories published in the paper can be found on the publication’s website.
Moreover, I’ve heard members have said they are innocent of all of the allegations presented in the original SGA story. Well, I hate to break it to you, but throwing away the papers makes you look guilty. In fact, a group of SGA senators has called for the impeachment of the organization’s president. Looks like you did more harm than good, huh?
Throwing away The CT’s papers also resulted in both the university’s and VCU Police’s involvement. You see, these members obviously thought this was just a matter of hiding the paper. In reality, this is a matter of financial property damage. According to calculations from Student Media Center Director Allison Dyche, the damages were estimated at $1,847. This includes the diligent work hours of staffers as well as printing and delivery costs.
My anger toward SGA has nothing to do with the original story and all to do with them trashing our work. I had a story in that paper. And now, I have another story in this paper. I wonder if they’ll throw this one away, too.