Monday, January 28, 2008

Alumna questions SGA resolution

By Airan Scruby

SGA's recent resolution to ban JuicyCampus.com from Pepperdine's internet server struck a blow against the students who elected SGA's members, and it demonstrates once again that the organization is not looking out for the rights and needs of their constituents. Rather, they keep up appearances for an image-conscious few. By ignoring the ramifications of such a decision on student speech and ability to gather information on campus, SGA is stealing the free will of the students who elected its members.

After hearing about the decision, I read every post on JuicyCampus.com over the past week. Most were immature, petty and sex-obsessed. But that doesn't change that students are expressing something what they think. While hurtful comments without a reason are indefensible, it does not change the writer's right to make them.

I am currently working as a reporter at the Whittier Daily News, a medium-sized paper based in the San Gabriel Valley, and my job is to cover a city, Pico Rivera. Several Web sites exist as "watch dogs" for the community, where people can anonymously post their thoughts about local politics. Often, posts are mean-spirited and not based in fact. Some call the morality of city leaders into question, while others accuse them of illegal activities.

Ugly things are said on those Web sites, but they represent a beautiful thing: freedom to speak your mind, regardless of how crazy or mean you are when you do so. And sometimes, those Web sites are used by reasonable people who start intelligent debate about what should be done in Pico Rivera. Reporters at the newspaper often check those sites and follow up by investigating the claims made on them. Occasionally, these watch dogs help to uncover corruption in their community.

SGA could have made the decision to use JuicyCampus.com as a forum for debate and discussion. They had the opportunity to encourage students to elevate the discourse there, and to use the site to point out the strengths and weaknesses of the university. Student journalists at Pepperdine, at the Graphic and Newswaves, could have followed up on claims and questions raised there, improving the flow of information for students.

Instead, the decision has been made to stifle student freedom and to squander an opportunity to give this cloud a silver lining.

2 comments:

sctmiller8 said...

Airan and Chris-
I couldn't agree more with what you are both posting. The whole situation is absurd and a demonstration of SGA taking itself too seriously in its attempts to "protect" the adult students of Pepperdine.
Once again, the articles were cogent and well-written. Good luck with SGA back in Malibu.
-Scott.

Nicholas B said...

Well said. Thank you Airan. As a fellow alum, I appreciate you taking personal time to comment on your alma mater. I see Pepperdine dropping out of the top 50 on US News with very low Peer Assessment Scores. I have no doubt that it's because other Universities hear about stories like this - students asking administrators for censorship - it's an embarrassment.

Contrary to what the SGA and Campus Ministry think, I don't think that the remedy is more anti-intellectual Christianity-light Joel Osten religiosity. These kids don't need to read Ephesians 4:29 a hundred times...once is quite enough. They need to read some Madison and Jefferson. They need to understand that protecting their God-given rights is a Christian ideal. I went to a Jesuit college for Grad School where, unlike Pepperdine, there was a strong Christian intellectual tradition. The weather wasn't as nice, but the level of discourse was head and shoulders above what I had experienced at Pepperdine.