A staffer in Concordia’s admissions office, who was intentionally not named by the office, methodically went through and confiscated all copies of The Concordian in Knutson Campus Center yesterday.
This week’s Concordian featured on the front page a story about students’ use of alcohol before campus dances. The story was not inflammatory, but rather was a description of current use of alcohol on campus and an examination of campus policies. However, because of the high number of tours being given this week to prospective students, the admissions office determined that this was not the image of Concordia they wished to project. While this may have been one person within the office, that staffer acts in a way that reflects the office, and the office is responsible for the actions of its staffers when they act on behalf of the office.
This confiscation is significant. By taking the paper, the admissions office determined that it was more important for their office to be able to present a rose-colored view of Concordia than to allow the students to present the truth through a body of work they spent valuable time creating. The admissions office determined that the true student voice was not what they wanted to present of the college, but rather that they would like to present the glossy brochures of Happy Cobbers. The Concordia College of the admissions office is not necessarily the Concordia College of the students, and an accurate representation of student thoughts via The Concordian is essential to a thriving liberal arts college. The Concordian does not serve as a vehicle for marketing and public relations, and must maintain its presence of being completely detached from the admissions office and the marketing they do for the college.
The liberal arts model is based on curiosity, a quest for the truth and a commitment to denying intentional deceit. The Concordian allows students to learn about campus matters and gives them a forum to respond to issues they are concerned about. By taking away this forum for discussion, the admissions office went against the liberal arts paradigm. They directly acted against what they push as the ideal education model when speaking with prospective students and their families.
Concordia is incredibly focused on the idea of “becoming responsibly engaged in the world.” Responsible engagement involves a thorough examination of oneself and one’s surroundings, and a sharing of that knowledge with others. A newspaper is one of the best ways to disperse knowledge to a group of people. By taking those newspapers away from the student body, the admissions office did not allow Concordia students to be engaged in their campus community, and they themselves acted irresponsibly by taking information from a group of students whose purpose for going to Concordia is to collect information and to absorb and create knowledge. The admissions office deliberately went against the mission of the college by confiscating these papers.
Newspapers, at their core, exemplify democratic ideals. Those who are governed deserve to have access to information about the system in which they operate. Students have a right to know what their peers are doing and saying, what goals the administration has for the college and any pressing concerns that have arisen. The newspaper is the best way to spread information to a large, diverse body of students, and the admissions office directly opposed the ideals of the newspaper in its democratic form by censoring information that is being given to the student body as a whole. Many classes offered at Concordia, both within the multimedia journalism major and beyond, describe freedom of the press as essential to a functioning body of people. By taking these papers, the admissions office went against one of the core tenets of a good, high-functioning society, as taught by the classes they promote to potential students.
In my positions as News Editor and Politics Blog Editor at The Concordian, I am ashamed of the actions of the admissions department. Censorship at any level fundamentally contradicts the ideals of democracy and the liberal arts. If the admissions office is truly dedicated to the learning model they espouse the benefits of, they cannot commit acts of censorship. While this was one instance that lasted a matter of hours, it is indicative of a larger issue, and must not be tolerated by the students, faculty and staff of Concordia College. The forum that is provided in a newspaper must never be sacrificed for an inherently deceitful, glossed-over image of a college.