This is what happens when reacting takes precedence over thinking.
The Dean of Library Services at University of the Incarnate Word canceled the library's subscription to the New York Times Wednesday to protest recent stories exposing a secret government program that monitors international financial transactions in the hunt for terrorists.
"Since no one elected the New York Times to determine national security policy, the only action I know to register protest for their irresponsible action (treason?) is to withdraw support of their operations by canceling our subscription as many others are doing," Mendell D. Morgan, Jr. wrote in a June 28 email to library staff. "If enough do, perhaps they will get the point."
Morgan did not return a call for comment this morning. The university released a statement saying that Morgan had the authority to remove the newspaper.
"The University of the Incarnate Word does not take an official position on the recent decision to cancel the subscription of the New York Times at the university's library" the statement said. " This decision was made by the administrator in charge of the library whose authority extends to the contents of the library, and thus it was within his purview to make this decision. The University is supportive of the First Amendment, a free press and of the presentation of diverse points of view."
Staff member Jennifer Romo said she and her coworkers were shocked when they received Morgan's email.
"The censorship is just unspeakable," Romo said. "There is no reason, no matter what your beliefs, to deny a source of information to students."
The removal also runs counter to the American Library Association's Bill of Rights, which states: "Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval."
At least one media-watcher said she doubts Morgan's move will have much impact.
"In the real world, it's an almost futile act on many levels," said Kelly McBride, ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank in St. Petersburg, Fla. "From what we know about the reading habits of college students, it will not make a difference because they read online."
In all seriousness, I don't expect this decision to stand. University presidents don't much like it when underlings bring negative publicity to their schools. Head coaches have gotten forced out for similar things. If you want to help the process along to its natural conclusion, The Agonist has some contact information for you. I'll second his call to be polite to UIW's President. He didn't do this, and there's no point in yelling at him. If you get a response, let me know.Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 30, 2006 to The great state of Texas | TrackBack