Saturday, July 20, 2024

Falling on Deaf Ears

the Weekly Sillimanian | August 30, 2023

Campus press freedom stands as a beacon of democracy in the vibrant world of higher education, where critical thinking and intellectual debate thrive.

However, recent occurrences indicate that despite repeated pleas, little is done to protect this fundamental principle. In addition to muzzling the voices of the young and curious, the repression of campus press freedom jeopardizes the basic foundation of a dynamic democratic society.

The resounding pleas for journalistic freedom are met with indifference, if not outright rejection, on college campuses, country-wide. The once-cherished heritage of free expression within academic institutions has been tarnished by instances of repression, self-censorship, and administrative restrictions. This worrying trend risks the growth of well-rounded individuals who can contribute to a healthy political conversation.

Press freedom on college campuses is inextricably linked to the larger principles of democracy. A free press ensures the spread of various points of view and acts as a crucial check on authority. This aspect translates to encouraging a climate on campuses where students can investigate contentious issues, question social norms, and hold their institutions accountable. A democratic society benefits from the informed engagement of its citizens, just as an intellectual community benefits from the open interchange of ideas.

Beyond the confines of the classroom, press freedom on campuses is crucial. Graduates leave school with degrees as well as knowledge of their duties and rights as active citizens. Through a thriving campus press, students can refine their abilities to evaluate material critically, challenge authority, and promote change. Academic institutions are crucial in forming the future leaders of a democratic society by fostering these qualities.

The Weekly Sillimanian acknowledges the current disdain for university press freedom as a cultural issue as well as an intellectual one. The possibility of a dynamic democracy is diminished when the voices of the younger generation are muzzled. 

The current flow of events throughout Silliman University’s founders’ celebration is evidence that even in microaggressions, campus press freedom is still suppressed. Administrative restrictions on the student publication’s budget have been exacerbated by bureaucracy. Blatant disrespect of the role of the press together with its right to access timely and crucial information is evident in how the Miss Silliman Committee failed to effectively communicate and heed agreements with us as its media partner. The same reality can be observed in how the media did not receive any official information regarding the 33rd Silliman University Student Government Student Assembly’s first regular session of the year—which was presided over by the 32nd Assembly—until after the time for it to start had passed. 

This variety of disingenuity is perceived as an attack on campus press freedom—whether it be intentional or not.

It is imperative to support university press freedom as we navigate an ever-changing world. Academic leaders, decision-makers, and citizens all need to understand that maintaining the independence of campus media is essential to the health of democracy. We must live up to democratic ideas rather than just preach about them.

The current atmosphere of disregard for press freedom on college campuses is a sign of larger threats to democracy itself. The future of democracy benefits from academic institutions embracing and defending press freedom values.

Let us heed the warnings that are going unheeded and realize that protecting the free exchange of ideas on college campuses is not a choice, but rather a necessity for the survival and strength of our democratic society.

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