Page 14


What’s at stake be a community news service, and give the people here a voice the freaks and the students. The paper will print things from the left and things from the right if we get contributors. We want a free press.” I come away from Denton with mixed feelings. The people are exceedingly easy to warm to, and they are engaged in the kind of day-by-day constructiveness that is undoubtedly necessary for long-term survival. But there is a hermetic, small-town quality to Family Village life that I find vaguely disturbing. That’s partially my own problem, but I can also note that the stability and calm of this small town, like that of most small towns, is accompanied by intellectual retrenchment. Oh, well, “intellectual retrenchment” describes our universities; why should I ask more of some poor freaks? Still, there seems to me a certain booshwah quality to this pursuit of spiritual and socio-economic serenity. A hip establishment with its own chambers of commerce will undoubtedly spawn its own breed of noncomformists, of anti-freak freaks. I was told that at the Family Feed Store transients are told to move on if they’re not prepared to become contributing members of the community, that the Family Village has enough problems without having to provide for outsiders who want a piece of the pie. Perfectly understandable, of course, but, well, not much different from what the other side says, is it? I always thought the ant was an asshole for not helping out the poor grasshopper. Of course, it’s all academic at this point; DDT will get em’ both, and us too. And there are worse things to be doing when the cataclysm comes than cultivating your gardens. Henry Staten is a graduate student in English at UT-Austin. He formerly taught English at the University of Minnesota. He spent the summer hitchhiking through England and is currently infatuated with L. Ron Hubbard, though he admits L. Ron is a nerd. 20 The Texas Observer Washington, D.C. The situation of The Daily Texan, the model, prize-winning student newspaper of the University of Texas, has become incredibly precarious. The regents, led, although now coyly, by the politically savage Frank Erwin, are out to gut the paper. The mountains of words and hours and hours of conferences amount to nothing compared to what the regents have done. They have declared that the Texan’s publisher of 50 years, Texas Student Publications, Inc., no longer exists. They have cut off one-third of the Texan’s funds all that they can get hold of. And they have sued for all of TSP’s assets. They are aiming to shut it down and re-open it under the same name, but under their censorship and control. Censorship, not “general authority,” is the word. The mickey mouse plans they have concocted and made public are a plan for censorship and control through the entirely new publishing board, new in structure and composition, with the actual power vested in subcommittees on which the student members of the board would be minorities. In essence, the regents are government. The Texan is journalism. In our system we do not let government tell journalism what to say or what the news is or how to report and edit it. The regents assert their authority to govern the Texan. The free press is not governed by government, it is governed by the practice and the conscience of journalism. WHEN POLITICAL power sets out to gut journalism power, we had better speak plainly. The three essential elements in the freedom of the Texan are the power of the student journalists to make their own decisions, the election of the editor by the students and the freedom of the publications board from the control of the regents. There are only two alternatives to student power over the Texan. One is Observations faculty power; the other is regents’ power. \(Administrators’ power is the same thing as Student power over the paper is what protects the journalism faculty from regents’ power. Imagine the faculty dilemma if the faculty had had to decide, with regents like Erwin and John Peace breathing over the shoulders, whether the Texan should report the Bauer House scandal. If the faculty had said no to the student journalists, the professors would have lost, and deserved to lose, the students’ respect. If they had said yes, they would have been directly under the guns of the regents. Regents’ power over the freedom of the Texan would be flatly contrary to the American tradition of the free press. The regents are appointed by the governor. The Texan, a student newspaper and a part of the free press, is not a house pet of the reigning academic politicians. To see the framework we are in more obviously, look to Russia. There Pravda is subject to the governance of the Communish Party. What the press says and prints as news are decided by the government. Can you imagine a Daily Texan at Moscow University? Or at any of the 13 universities in Spain? No, and that is what is wrong with Russia, and Spain and any other totalitarian country. Who will argue that the American system will give government authority to print, control, edit, that is, to govern, a daily newspaper? Would we give the Department of Justice such authority? The governor of Texas or our speaker of the House? The Department of Health, Education and Welfare? The State Board of Education? We would not. Will we give the board of regents such authority? We will not. Confusion is caused because of the analogy that is sometimes drawn between the regents and a publisher. TSP is the publisher. The regents are part of the same government the secretary of state is part of and are no more the publisher of the Texan than the secretary of state is the publisher of the San Antonio Express when he charters it. There would be something fundamentally contrary to the American tradition for the regents to be the publisher or TSP would not have been set up 50 years ago. Frank Erwin has called the Texan disgraceful and irresponsible. He is the one who is disgraceful and irresponsible. He has blamed the Texan bitterly for his own blundering in the Bauer House matter. NEW! BY THE ALAMO in downtown SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS 67 tastefully decuated rooms, each with remote controlled color tv and rheostat lights, free parking, and local telephone calls, swimming pool, ice and soft drink machines on each floor, across the street from the Alamo. Major credit cards accepted. Commercial and family rates year round. C Crockett Motor inn Telephone 512/225-44919320 Bonham Street 18205