Story in Concordian about students' use of alcohol triggers controversy
By Cali Owings / The Forum
MOORHEAD – A story on students’ alcohol use before campus events triggered a censorship controversy between Concordia College’s student newspaper and its admissions office.
A staff member for the admissions office confiscated copies of the Concordian from the Knutson Campus Center before an event Thursday for prospective students and their families.
In an editorial posted Friday, Concordian news editor Emma Connell decried the admissions office for censorship.
“Censorship at any level fundamentally contradicts the ideals of democracy and the liberal arts,” Connell wrote.
Steve Schuetz, vice president for enrollment, said one staff member was responsible for removing the papers.
Several high school students and their parents were attending an open house in the Knutson Campus Center because Minnesota students had two days off of school Thursday and Friday. Though it was a busy day for admissions events, Schuetz said the confiscation of the newspaper wasn’t a “coordinated effort” by his office.
Schuetz apologized to the Concordian staff on behalf of his office. He said he’s had multiple discussions with the unnamed staff member responsible for confiscating the newspapers.
The issue, which hit stands Wednesday, featured a front-page story in which school officials and anonymous students described the prevalence of alcohol use before campus events like homecoming and the Halloween Bash.
In the editorial, Connell wrote that the admissions office favored presenting prospective students with “glossy brochures of Happy Cobbers” over the “true student voice” represented in the newspaper’s pages.
Schuetz said the admissions office values the student voice.
“We want to provide an authentic portrayal of the Concordia experience to all prospective students,” he said.
Concern for the impression certain stories may give prospective students and their families about the school “doesn’t excuse our actions,” Schuetz said.
“It shouldn’t matter what’s in the student paper. They are free to publish what they want,” he said.
Catherine McMullen, an English and journalism professor and faculty adviser for the Concordian, wrote in an email that the newspaper “operates under considerable freedom and is not previewed or censored by administrators.”
Calling the removal an “isolated incident,” McMullen also wrote that it was a learning experience for all involved.
Regan Whitney, the editor-in-chief of the publication, wrote in an email that the incident will help “everyone to think critically about the role the Concordian plays at Concordia.”