The following was sent in a mass email to students at Stern and Yeshiva College on December 9th. We at the Beacon were planning on writing a detailed account of what happened between ourselves and the Student Council, but the email explained everything so well and fairly that we decided to simply re-post their email.
We would like to address the events that unfolded over the past few days with regard to a piece of writing that was published in the YU Beacon. We would like to make it clear that the administration was not involved in the eventual decision, nor does this reflect an inability by the YU student body to recognize that a conversation about sex is valid. It does, however, reflect the reality that a large portion of the student body felt that this was not the appropriate medium for such a discussion.
Until yesterday, the YU Beacon was a club under Stern College for Women Student Council, with an agreed budget that was put in place to be used for events, and other matters deemed beneficial to the student body of Stern College. The current economic reality has made it necessary for us to be incredibly careful with the way the funds are delegated. The money for student council clubs comes directly from the student activity fee and so it is imperative that the clubs serve the needs of the student body. We are constantly re-assessing the clubs to ensure that the students money is being spent wisely – current clubs will soon be entering into the process of reapplying for club status, and those that did not meet the requirements laid out at the beginning of the year will be reevaluated.
The piece in question was titled, “How Do I Even Begin To Explain This.” The piece was ambiguous with regard to whether it was fictional or not, and detailed a Stern student’s memory of what seems to be her first time having sex. As with any publication, the decision to put a piece up is entirely the editors’ own – however, as a newspaper that is funded by Student Council, there is a need for the editors to take into account the sensibilities of the Student Body that it serves. It is not the job of a student club to shock their audience, but rather to cater to their needs; and whilst the topic of sex should certainly not be taboo, the reaction of the student body highlighted the discomfort over this particular means of addressing the matter.
As with every club under our jurisdiction, the YU Beacon was asked to submit a mission statement at the beginning of the year. They were also informed that they must hold two events per semester, in order to maintain their status as a club. The YU Beacon’s mission statement, as submitted by their editors-in-chief, was; “The YU Beacon is YU’s first coed paper, and as such we aim to provide a publication which represents the views of the entire student body. We welcome any and all views for publication on our website, and allow students to receive news as it happens, with a fortnightly issue, and breaking news articles in between.”
SCWSC meets once a week to discuss the clubs on campus, as well as other general student council affairs. The YU Beacon had come up for discussion multiple times, with questions about whether it was fulfilling its mission statement, and whether it was, in fact, meeting the needs and interests of the student body. We had discussed the fact that it does not seem to be entirely reflective of the student body, and there had been concern over what it was accomplishing for the students – and thus the question had arisen whether it was the most appropriate use of their dollars.
Any time that the student body is upset by the actions of a particular club, we – as student council – endeavor to resolve the situation in the most appropriate manner possible. The overwhelmingly negative response that we received after this particular piece was published was cause for concern. Members of student council – as well as the administration – had received multiple e-mails, and students had come to us personally, expressing unease over the piece.
The YU Beacon was approached in its capacity as a student funded club, and asked whether they would be willing to come to some sort of compromise. Student Council, in a meeting with the editors-in-chief of the YU Beacon – that was mediated by three members of the YU administration – proposed entering into negotiations over the status of the YU Beacon. The editors-in-chief opted to give-up their status as a club, thus losing their funding and their YU affiliation, rather than come to a compromise.
We wish the Beacon the best of luck with all its future articles, and look forward to reading them.