Public Opinion

Letters to the Editor: In response to Volume 18 Issue 26 Sex Issue

Editor’s note:

 The point of any news article, other than to inform, is to create civil discourse. Issue 26 of the CNM Chronicle has done this more so than any other edition of the paper in its 18 years of publishing. This and the following four pages have been dedicated completely to the responses we have received, both negative and positive.

It is important to note, however, the not all discourse remained civil. On the Central New Mexico Community College Facebook page, some of the conversation became nasty. This was never the intention of the paper.

Many people who commented negatively about the paper did not wish to have their comments published because of the cruelty of some newspaper supporters.

These commenters said that CNM had been in the right to shut down the paper and to confiscate copies; that the staff of the Chronicle should be fired; that the paper had been offensive, especially to those who were religious and that the paper exercised extremely poor judgment in creating an issue focused on sex. One commenter wanted to let us know that the sexual position Chit-Chat was creepy and completely inappropriate.

While we could not convince those people to allow us publication of their comments, we wanted to ensure their voices were heard.

 Congratulations to the staff of the CNM Chronicle for getting your news­paper back after administration’s “sus­pension” of your jobs and your free speech rights.

Over the past two years or so the Chronicle has become a real newspaper. Before then it published happy talk, often just rehashed press releases put out by administration. Now it covers all aspects of life at CNM. The CNM administra­tion headed by Kathie Winograd hates this. The shutdown of the student paper was not really the result of a sex centered edition. Brad Moore as much as said so in his statements to The Albuquerque Journal and other local media. Sex was just the excuse administration had been looking for.

The Chronicle’s coverage of part-time faculty issues, incidents of violence on campus, conflict between the CNM Employees Union and administration, and the firing of Steve Cormier has won admiration from most of the CNM community. However, these are some of the issues causing “past concerns over content” for the Winograd administra­tion. The lie about shutting down the Chronicle because a minor was quoted fools no one, and as Administration attempts to protect its comically exposed derriere, it reveals its arrogance and incompetence to the nation.

Kathie Winograd should be fired for attempting to abrogate the free speech rights of CNM students. Moreover, if the report of people having copies of the Chronicle snatched from their hands is true, the snatchers and their bosses should be arrested. Once again we apparently have proof that when Winograd insists that incivility, intimi­dation, and physical aggression will not be tolerated, she secretly adds “unless I authorize them.”

Fight on Chronicle. Continue to cover both the bad and the good at CNM. Resist the implied intent con­tained in CNM’s post-reinstatement remarks to rein you in. You’re the only free voice at CNM.

Linda Oldham

Retired Instructor of English

 

Congratulations, CNM Chronicle staff, on your excel­lent current issue and on the reinstatement of the Chronicle after the odd interruption yesterday.

Long may you run!

Bill Nevins

former CNM English/Journalism instructor

writer, Local iQ and Z magazines

film subject: Committing Poetry in Times of War (available free via HULU)

 

The Executive Council of Students understands that Central New Mexico Community College has a duty to protect the repu­tation of the institution. However, the Chronicle is a venue for the communication of information for the CNM community, and is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Volume 18, Issue 26 of the CNM Chronicle titled “SEX,” was a tactful and well-written issue discussing “Sexuality”. We as the mem­bers of Executive Council of Students feel that this issue sheds light and understand­ing to the sensitive issue that is sexuality. Our students are subjected to social stig­mas based on these ideas. If the Chronicle can educate its readers about sexuality, we can purge the possible big­otry that our students face.

We believe that the action taken against the Chronicle was impetuous on behalf of the Institution. Students should be afforded the right to react to this publication and make a choice as to its educational value. Having the paper pulled from the hands of our students vio­lates the freedom of choice and the representation of what this school stands for, education. More oversight should have occurred to act in an appropriate manner for this situation. There was no open rhetoric with the stu­dents or those who oversee the paper.

The Chronicle has proven that they are a professional student organization. They received a third place rank­ing in the “Best of Show” cat­egory at the National College Journalism Convention this term. The convention is sponsored by the Associated Collegiate Press. The com­petition was among 2-year college papers in both the United States and Canada.

The CNM Chronicle aims to be an unbiased informa­tional resource for the stu­dent body. It provides insight to students about events and topics that are relevant in their lives. It also serves as a candle to bring light to diffi­cult topics. Although we may not always agree with what appears in the paper, the con­tent allows readers to form opinions that are right for them. Access to this informa­tion helps provide an environ­ment where ideas can flourish.

As the voice for the stu­dents, we felt it was neces­sary to voice our concern for the swift actions taken against The Chronicle and the lack of due process. This decision has left its employ­ees in disarray and facing a possible loss of an occupation they clearly loved. Although the issue covered a highly controversial topic, we as college students are expected to approach these issues with understanding. Part of the college experience is being exposed to the complexities of human conditions even if they are uncomfortable to the individual.

The Executive Council of Students

 

 Before we debate what actually triggered the Central New Mexico Community College’s draconian suspension of its student newspa­per on Tuesday, I think it safe to conclude that the public response, largely one of outrage, was what reinstated The Chronicle less than 21 hours later.

I mean, you could almost hear the tires squealing and smell the burning rubber when President Katharine Winograd threw the college’s spin machine into reverse this afternoon in an email “authorizing the CNM Chronicle to continue operations immediately.”

The blowback included a sympathy shutdown by The Daily Lobo, the UNM student publication, national news coverage, a student-initi­ated petition, a sharp rebuke from the New Mexico Compass, a new online publication, classroom discussions at CNM that capitalized on this rare but invaluable “teaching moment,” as well as a constitutionally argued request from the Philadelphia-based Freedom Foundation for Individual Rights in Education that the college “immediately renounce its blatant censorship of The CNM Chronicle and restore its operations immediately.”

O, the attention struck where it hurt the most: CNM’s public image, a primary, almost obsessive focus of the current administration. We work and study as a family here at Happy Valley State, right? That is precisely the persona CNM has crafted for the public, particularly its “community partners,” loosely defined on the college website as those “businesses and corporations” that support CNM Foundation and augment state and local tax revenues.

The suspension of newspaper and is staff, the physical removal of papers from the racks, was initially justified by the content of latest issue, which was devoted to matters of sex, and was deemed “offensive and not appropriate for the educational mission of CNM.”

Today, before announcing the publication could resume, Winograd said, “The reason that we pulled this issue from the news-racks around campus was that a High School student was included in this issue and we needed to check on the legal ramifications of information on a minor in a publication of the college.”

Interestingly enough, that concern was shared by The Chronicle staff, which sought and obtained permission for the interview from the teenager’s parents, explained managing editor Jyllian Roach. And it’s not surprising that the award-winning newspaper would do that because it is capably advised by veteran New Mexico newsman Jack Ehn, a part-time faculty member and the former editorial page editor for the Albuquerque Tribune.

By the way, the teen girl in question scandalously confided to the newspaper that she was committed to abstinence until marriage.

The Chronicle was suspended because it is not part of the school’s official PR mill and has reported on faculty firings, misleading public information about part-time faculty salaries and other matters the administration would rather its friends and funders not know about—in short for being a newspaper. CNM spokesperson Brad Moore admitted as much to The Albuquerque Journal. “The current issue was part of an ongoing pattern of concern with the content,” he said, declining to elaborate.

However, the battle for hearts and mind is far from over. After conceding that the college has “failed to provide the CNM Chronicle with the level of editorial resources and education that it needs and deserves,” Winograd’s email explained she would seek assistance from CNM’s community partners, those “businesses and corporations,” which are presumably well skilled in public relations—not journalism. Interestingly, she failed to mention any role for journalists, communications faculty, or First Amendment experts. Stay tuned.

Seamus O’Sullivan

CNM Instructor

 

 I became interested in the issue not because I am a big fan of your press, but because as an American Citizen, I have always valued the rights of all individuals to express their views without fear of censorship or retaliation by others in our community or country. We are one of very few nations that allow its citizens to have so many freedoms, yet it appears that we have forgotten who we are and have become conformists whom allow people in leadership roles to control us through fear. When the school decided to close down the Chronicle due to the topics related to sex, it stopped behaving in a way that allows students to express themselves, and moved to a communist agenda, that permits censoring anything they do not want to hear or see. This is simply something I will always stand against no matter of the topic that is being attacked, and I urge others who value their God given rights, and who value the American Freedom to stand together against attempts of censorship such as the ones CNM took against the Chronicle. I wish you the best of luck with this situation, and hope you never have to face such outrageous issues.

Jacobo Lopez

 

 I just read that your paper has been suspended by the same dishonest people who framed me. Welcome to the club! You are now officially an investigative journalist. I was afraid this would happen as you folks were too curious. Their excuse about CNM “not having a journalism major” only shows how desper­ate they are for an excuse to shut the Chronicle down. I suspect that your support of me was far more important than an issue on sex. Good God! Who does Moore, Winograd, and Manning think they are? The arbiters of morals for 30,000 students? They can take lessons from you and your staff with regards to honesty and integrity. Don’t give up! I’m sure the faculty and students will come to your aid. If I can help, let me know.

Steve Cormier

 

 I can not believe that this kind of smut would go out to news paper stands on campus. The latest issue of the Chronicle is a pathetic attempt to look like a student pub­lication. It made me very upset to think that this is what tax dollars are being spent on and even worse it infuri­ated me to know that there are very young kids on campus that are picking this smut up.

I would think that one’s sexuality is a personal and private matter and should be left behind closed doors in the privacy of one’s home. This very feeble attempt to look schol­arly comes off looking like a Larry Flynt pub­lication. What a shame that CNM officials would allow something like this to even make it to press. How one thinks, feels and acts about sexuality is a private matter, left to those who choose to have intercourse, that is as far as it should go. Shame on CNM execu­tives and learned staff who permitted this to happen. Where are the boundaries, where is the respect for privacy, and where are the lines drawn when it comes to young inexperienced people who are barely old enough to have any idea about sexuality and preference.

On top of this the Chronicle is suspended! Let’s pull our heads out of the sand and realize that a grave mistake was made, but don’t sus­pend the flow of intel­ligent, well thought out exchange of edu­cation and knowledge. Newspapers are dwin­dling as it is, so just because a few wayward writers run amuck we should terminate the paper? Let’s just clean house, start over and keep going. Personally I have only picked the Chronicle up a few times. In the few times I have picked up the paper it has been about Marijuana, beer brew­eries, and now sex.

Get the paper back. How ironic that CNM boasts of the Chronicle receiving all this acclaim and shortly afterward we get this debacle. Personally I feel a few of the upper executive staff should also be sent packing. It is a mess to be sure, but let’s clean up the mess and keep going forward. Bring the Chronicle back and get back on track.

-Patricio Trujillo

Administrators,

 

Your recent move to cut off and censor the CNM Chronicle is laugh­able, counter-productive and poorly thought out. What a great way to get the entire city talking about sex.

Your writers and edi­tors wanted to breach a topic that is too rarely, openly discussed, and in a context of diversity and education. Your efforts to censor and prohibit free speech will not work.

Do you need to know the list of rising STDs stu­dents in NM are spread­ing? Do you want to know about bullying and sui­cides among LGBT youth? Do you realize NM has among the highest rates of unplanned teen pregnancy?

But censor the issue about sex, so nobody can have these vital conversa­tions. It will serve no one, and only activate your stu­dents to speak up for their free speech and dialogue.

Also, this move just goes to show the entire city that your administra­tion had little oversight over the Chronicle’s edi­torial process — if you had no previous idea this issue was being planned, printed and distributed in the vicinity of 30,000 copies. That’s an expense you seemed unable to plan conscientiously as an insti­tution if only now you know about the issue.

Your decision to censor the Chronicle is pathetic and only giving this topic more media atten­tion. Shame on you. I am amazed you couldn’t possi­bly have thought of a better way to use this issue as a teaching moment.

Wishing you luck on the recovery, and hoping to see the Chronicle re-instated as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Molly Adler, Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center

 

I am deeply saddened to hear of the decision to pull yesterday’s edition of the CNM Chronicle and urge your administration to reconsider.

I personally support the content decisions by Jyllian Roach and her team. Bringing light to the topic of sexual identity is a civil rights issue, and should be a core responsibility of insti­tutions of higher education.

Regardless of my per­sonal feelings about the con­tent, I am even more frus­trated with your administra­tion’s decision to completely disregard the protections of the 1st Amendment.

Why have a paper at all? Why even admit students who don’t fit some neat, easy to discuss category?

I’ve been a New Mexico resident for 22 years, and up until now I’ve always had good things to say about CNM (and TVI, in the days before the name change).

The decision to pull the paper is wrong and shameful. As a media professional and supporter of local education and journalism, I’m embar­rassed for the students and staff of CNM.

I encourage you to right this wrong immediately by allowing the redistribution of this issue and then hold­ing a forum to discuss the decision, and your concerns with the content as well as any past problems (which have not been detailed in any meaningful way, as of now).

Sincerely,

Joe Cardillo

Albuquerque Academy ’02

Long time resident of New Mexico

 

KW has been trying to shut the Chronicle down ever since they printed all the articles by us part-timers on our pay and jobs.

Then the Chronicle crossed the red line and supported Steve Cormier.

The issue was not as gross as the propaganda the administration spreads about degrees and prosperity for the business community.

Who of us will be next to get the axe?

I hope the faculty unites and speaks out.

Bob

 

The Chronicle has done such a good job of covering part-time issues, that if you need support, I know that my friend Seamus has written, so please count me in too.

Benay Blend

CHSS Instructor

 

My name is Dinah Vargas and I am opposed to the suspension of the CNM Chronicle. What happened to freedom of speech? Many people I spoke to are in sup­port of CNM Chronicle and opposed to the suspension. I hope many people do their part and speak out! I know I will. I will send emails to as many people as possible at CNM as well as the board of directors. Please let the mem­bers of CNM Chronicle know that they have support and any further support needed from me I am available. This is censorship and a violation of the First Amendment. You don’t have to be a ‘journal­ist’ to write anything — in fact many middle schools and high school have a news­paper and I am pretty confi­dent that the person oversee­ing the paper does not have a background in journalism. With that being said, that excuse should be debunked immediately.

Dinah Vargas

CNM Student

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