No word comes recently from the University of Arizona on carrying out its decision to murder the Journalism Department. Do the administrators running the university assume our attention to this crime will fade Ä and they can bury the corpse privately? Would the crime be greater or less, and more or less public, if it were the Women's Studies or African-American Studies that were being axed?
What the administrators won't admit is that the Journalism Department always makes them feel uncomfortable because it is "critical" and "anti-establishment." "Establishment" means both the university's and the town's power structures; for the Tucson social and political power structures furnish many of the dollars the university receives. To be critical of the community is to risk that dollar flow. If the administrators "allow" the Journalism Department to teach or write "critical" things about the town or university, the administrators' university might be punished by the town.
Of course, the Journalism Department is critically anti-establishment: It is the paramount function of journalists to investigate, describe, evaluate, and publish stories that are "critical" Ä not which necessarily criticize but which "exercise or involve careful judgment or judicious evaluation" (Webster's). Such judgments of some aspect of the town or campus will often conflict with those of the administrators and the town's power structures and thereby endanger the dollar flow.
Because it cannot get a "tame" Journalism Department (to the great credit of its professors and students), the administrators seek to kill the one they have. Are the university's policies and actions so indefensible on their merits that all evaluation of them by non-administrators must be silenced or ignored? Apparently so.
Donald R. Hall
Political Science Associate Professor
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