Smith College has barred reporters from covering a sit-in unless they promise to agree with the demonstrators. One of the organizers said: “We are asking that any journalists or press that cover our story participate and articulate their solidarity with black students and students of color. By taking a neutral stance, journalists and media are being complacent in our fight.”
The disturbing thing is that the college has made this a formal ban.
Stacey Schmeidel, Smith College director of media relations, said the college supports the activists’ ban on media.
“It’s a student event, and we respect their right to do that, although it poses problems for the traditional media,” Stacey Schmeidel said.
Schmeidel went on to say that the college reserves the right to remove reporters from the Student Center because it’s a private campus.
It’s true that Smith has the right to control and limit the kind of reporting that takes place on its campus and to permit only favorably biased journalism. But it can’t claim to be an institution of higher learning while doing this. The college’s website claims:
Since its founding in 1871, Smith College has provided women of high ability and promise an education of uncompromising quality. A world-class faculty of scholars are fully engaged with their students’ intellectual development, and an open curriculum encourages each student to explore many fields of knowledge.
The terms “scholars,” “intellectual development,” and “open curriculum” can’t co-exist with a requirement to agree in advance; “secretiveness” and “indoctrination” are more fitting. If it doesn’t permit open inquiry into events on campus, is it going to allow anyone to look critically at its scholarly work?
This is different from what happened at the University of Missouri; there some people, including staff, tried to intimidate reporters, but at Smith it’s official college policy that independent journalism isn’t welcome.
If you’re looking to send a kid to college, or if you’re a student weighing possible colleges for yourself, check carefully whether they’re educational or indoctrinational institutions. What they were a couple of decades ago may not be indicative.