Recently, the administration at the University of Florida demanded that the 19 newspaper racks, which hold the student paper The Independent Florida Alligator, be removed from campus by Aug. 15. Consequently, the publication will take a huge hit. The removal of the racks will seriously impact the paper’s distribution, which in turn will diminish its readership, and this is most likely the intended effect. The administration’s nonsensical reasons for the removal include fears that students may trip over them or they will become projectiles during a storm, according to The Miami Herald. But seeing as how these hazards have not been of concern for the past 29 years that the racks have been on campus, the reasoning reeks of deceit. It would be one thing if the administration announced its real reasons for removing the racks and dealt with the criticism, but this is just insulting to the students of UF.
The administration’s scheme is actually quite clever. Remove the racks, and remove the paper, ideally. The Alligator became independent in 1973 following several attempts by the UF administration to censor its content, so the new solution is to fine it instead. Black racks are to be put on campus as a replacement, and the administration would charge the newspaper a fee to use them. The administration’s proposed alternative places this very same content in serious jeopardy, as the paper would have to sign a licensing agreement with the university.
CollegeMagazine.com ranked UF’s journalism program among the top 10 in the nation this year, a statistic that simply makes the administration’s attempts to inhibit its own student paper look hypocritical and foolish.
The Central Florida Future is fortunate to be independently owned. This allows us to give criticism of UCF when needed, because no institution is perfect, and the student body deserves a knowledgeable source for news and information. The fact that our editorial board is composed of students is also important. Our concerns mirror those of our classmates, and therefore, we strive to cover UCF news in a way that puts emphasis on the pertinent issues that are most important to the Knight community. Now, imagine a college where this freedom does not exist. Informed democracy and free press are essential not only to the student demographic but to all. It sets a dangerous precedent when a college administration abuses its power and takes such a low blow to stifle its student voices. An independent, free student paper is imperative to the wellbeing of a university. In a college system where everything else is determined by money, students deserve a forum where their voices can be heard. If you agree, tell the UF administration by signing The Alligator’s petition on Change.org at the website below, and make your voice heard.