Thursday, January 28, 2010

Howard Zinn, BU and Freedom of Speech

Globe Howard Zinn obituary
 More here

In 1978, Howard was the advisor for an alternative student newspaper called the bu exposure (sic). The paper ran stories about BU's Kenmore-area land grabs, sweetheart deals with trustees and the school's investments in apartheid South Africa. A story about a trustee's proposal to seek donations from law and med school applicants made national news. (I was in charge of the women's page.)
Then-president John Silber called the exposure staff outside agitators and “short-pants Communists.” An exposure editorial called him “Expert Chiseler; Mediocre Philosopher.” BU sent a memo to Comm school profs with a list of the names from the staff box. Take them aside, it said, and talk to them about responsible journalism.
The university decided to strip the paper of its grant from the student-run board that funded clubs, newsletters and concerts. According to the Daily Free Press, BU said the paper needed to “conform to certain guidelines” to qualify for funding. One of those rules: an advisor willing to approve copy. Howard said it amounted to prior review and refused to do it. From the Jan. 31,1978 Freep story on the exposure's lawsuit against BU.
When this takes place on a university campus this is especially reprehensible. If there is any place where the clash of free ideas is sacrosanct, it is the university.
For more on the bu exposure case and the many free speech battles at BU under Silber, see Wikipedia.
To avoid messiness like this in the future, BU enacted a “publications policy” barring student organization funding for “journals of opinion.” The administration recently enacted the rarely used rule and pulled funding for a new student-produced lifestyle glossy, BUZZ. (I was hoping they had just forgotten about the policy.)
(Oddly, it was the Free Press that alerted BU to BUZZ's unlawful dip into the student allocations fund.)
Children of the Revolution
 Two weeks in the life of an alternative newspaper at Boston University, The Boston Phoenix , December 9,1999.

"Courts to Hear Censorship Charge by Students at Boston University"
The New York Times, Feb. 12, 1978

"Student Paper Says BU Sells Admissions"
The New York Times, March 15, 1978

"Rich Man, Poor Man"
  Newsweek, March 27, 1978

1 comment:

Terri said...

holy shoot! thanks for this post, tinker! really takes me back... to the days of being called, "short pants communists," and fighting john silber for our first amendment rights. i lost my entire bu exposure/freep collection in a flood. glad to see that history has been preserved!
terri taylor
former bu exposure staff