Don’t attack campus media

Regardless of the dispute between a campus newspaper and teacher, there’s a bigger issue at stake.

At the University of Minnesota-Morris, there is controversy between a student newspaper and a biology professor.

The professor criticized a satirical piece in the Morris Northstar, which was immediately followed by thefts and vandalism of papers.

The piece that sparked controversy came in November and included a photo of Trayvon Martin’s deceased face with a caption that read, “Trayvon Martin: victim of racism and fascism, and what does [school administration] have to say about it? Nothing. Not a single thing.”

Professor Paul “PZ” Myers wrote in a blog post to “Treat their scattered papers as hate-filled trash and dispose of it appropriately.” Northstar’s publisher, John Geiger, told City Pages earlier this month that afterward there were four thefts in a two-week period, which began after Myers’ post. Geiger is considering a First Amendment lawsuit and said Myers is “advocating censorship.”

While it’s unclear that the Northstar has much of a case, the potential harm to campus media is disturbing. As staff in a student-run newspaper in the University of Minnesota system, the Minnesota Daily Editorial Board empathizes with the Northstar. Geiger estimated the thefts cost Northstar nearly $1,000, and at a time when newspapers nationwide are cutting circulation or going out of business, school-funded media may be especially vulnerable.

Regardless of whether you agree with the content, these thefts have the potential to harm crucial dialogue around campus. Instead of throwing away papers, Morris students, staff and faculty should actively read campus media, or simply leave it on racks.