After learning of additional outlets being denied permission to the Pitzer College Council vote, TSL’s Editorial Board has updated this article.
Today, Pitzer College committed an egregious assault on the freedom of the press by barring non-TSL news outlets from attending a highly anticipated upcoming vote.
In an email to TSL, Claudia Strauss, Pitzer’s chair of the Faculty Executive Committee, said Pitzer is barring The Los Angeles Times, The Claremont Independent — a student-run, conservative 5C news outlet — and other news sources who asked to attend the Pitzer College Council’s vote on suspending its University of Haifa study abroad program Thursday. Strauss cited “limited seating” for the College Council vote as the reason for their exclusion.
Journalists are protected by the First Amendment and have the right to report on events and inform their community about the decisions being made that affect them. Claiming that there won’t be room for them at the meeting, when other media accommodations could easily be made, is not acceptable.
The debate over suspending Haifa has embroiled Pitzer and the 5Cs for months, and the situation will come to a head today. It’s not OK for Pitzer to ban certain outlets from the meeting that will decide the issue, and silence student voices in the process.
This isn’t the first time members of the media were banned from College Council meetings on the Haifa decision. Last semester, a TSL reporter was kicked out of a Haifa meeting after refusing an offer to delete their photos from the event in exchange for a transcript of Pitzer President Melvin Oliver’s speech.
The reporter was told the event was Pitzer-only, but there was never any indication that the meeting was restricted to the Pitzer community. No one checked IDs, and the door remained open for the duration of the meeting. Several non-Pitzer students were present and were never asked to leave.
This decision by Pitzer is another example of blatant discrimination against the media. However, this episode is even worse. To allow one media outlet to be present at the event, while banning others, is abhorrent and should not be tolerated.
We do not agree with all of The Independent’s policies; for instance, their leniency regarding the use of anonymous opinions in news stories. The Independent’s story on the ban refers to TSL as “student-government funded” outlet, with the implication being that we are a mouthpiece for student governments. While a portion of our printing budget does come from student government allocations, we are editorially independent and have never allowed money to dictate what we cover.
The Independent’s story also unfairly criticizes TSL as “left-leaning”; while many of the writers in our opinions section espouse liberal views, our news coverage is non-partisan and unbiased.
Despite our editorial differences and differences in perspective, we stand full-heartedly beside The Independent and condemn Pitzer’s decision, as censorship of any media outlet is never acceptable.
Just as other news outlets banded together in support of CNN after President Donald Trump rescinded reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass, we must now stand with The Independent, The LA Times and other news outlets, and implore Pitzer to reverse its decision.
TSL’s editorial board is comprised of its editor-in-chief and two managing editors, and does not represent the views of other TSL staff members or the publication as a whole.