We’d like to tip our hats to the Swarthmore Phoenix editorial board. In this morning’s paper, the editors called out Student Council for its crack-down on open press at weekly meetings. StuCo issued a February 26 report that says student journalists will no longer be able to freely report on what representatives discuss. Instead, writers must rely on StuCo’s own summary report or schedule a separate meeting with individual StuCo representatives. The Phoenix complains:
The language in the report is enough to make anyone who values transparency cringe. But just so there is no doubt about the implications of StuCo’s new policy, let us be clear as to what this means. Meetings by StuCo, an organization whose mission, according to its constitution, is ‘to serve, represent, and protect the interests of the students of Swarthmore College,’ can no longer be reported on by members of the press.’…It does not take a political theorist to understand why such a decision is troublesome.
The Phoenix editors then opt for a bit of African trivia and compare our StuCo reps to autocrats:
Indeed, its tactics resemble those used by the world’s most authoritarian governments to curtail freedom of the press. In Eritrea, for example, one of Africa’s most notoriously repressive regimes, reporters are handed instructions by the government on how to cover events, a process eerily reminiscent of StuCo’s new protocol of providing reporters with summaries of what to cover.
It is certainly disturbing that Swarthmore students seeking transparency would attempt sidestepping the basic accountability of a free press. We urge StuCo to quickly reverse course. But we are proud that our friends at the Phoenix have come down on the side of free discourse. We encourage them to continue defending free speech rights for all students, and not just when its their reporters getting kicked out of Parrish parlor meetings.