So this post, about being dumped as Manhattanville College’s student newspaper advisor, caught some buzz the past few days. I was lauded by contemporaries and, surely, damned in the school’s administrative offices. Several of my family members thought it was, ahem, not especially wise. I love teaching, after all, and is there really a benefit to bashing the school that employs you (I’ve got two remaining classes)?
It’s a fair point.
And yet … as a journalism teacher, I beg my students to write truthfully. I tell them that their words have power; that their words can make a difference; that just because you’re small and an institution is large doesn’t mean you should consider yourself powerless. Why, earlier today a guest speaker, the exceptional Chris Dessi, came to my class to talk all things social media. What grabbed me the most were his repeated examples of Twitter and Facebook and whatnot providing oomph to the seemingly oomphless. “You have a voice, you have a take,” he said. “Use that.”
I just didn’t feel right, demanding honesty and integrity without offering it myself. How can you tell aspiring journalists that it’s their job to uncover wrongdoing—then sit atop wrongdoing? How can you blather on about accountability without being accountable?
So … yeah.
One last thing. In the aftermath of the post, I was asked by several people whether I was mad at the professor who took over as advisor. The answer—to be perfectly honest—was (at one time) yes. I was mad that he never called me; mad that he never called the returning staff members; mad that he took something vibrant and sorta kinda brought it back to the old days of mediocrity. Yet that anger has long vanished. He wasn’t the one who dumped me. Heck, he’s not even a practicing journalist. So, surely, he’s doing the best with what he knows.