"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Something afoot with "NorthStar" at UMM?

My source at MPR tells me there's "movement" on the subject of "NorthStar." So, something is happening but I honestly don't know what.
I have shared extensively on this topic but have not done so for a while. I haven't given much thought to "NorthStar" since late last year. I really had nothing new to offer in my blog writing. I had said all I could think of.
In some cases, once you've made all your points, you just have to shrug and move on. You have to admit to yourself that the other side has in effect won, and that in this case, the UMM administration sees NorthStar as a perfectly reasonable, legitimate communications vehicle on the UMM campus. 
NorthStar purports to be "libertarian." There's nothing wrong with that. A student-run publication should lift the "marketplace of ideas" ideal on the campus. It should be thoughtful and helpful with its motives. I have not seen "NorthStar" in that light. It appears to be a bull in the china closet.
I realize that college-age young people can get these impulses. But at a certain point, adults need to impose their mature judgment and encourage restraint. It is my opinion that adults never got involved to intercept this unacceptable behavior on the UMM campus. Apparently something now is happening. That would be fine but it's belated.
The Minnesota Daily on the Twin Cities campus editorialized on the assumption that NorthStar was a typical student publication which, although edgy, deserved its place on campus. I wonder to what extent the Minnesota Daily people researched the subject.
The First Amendment has never been applicable with this. Many people invoke the First Amendment in situations where it doesn't apply. It would only apply if the government were threatening prosecution based on the thoughts or ideas being presented. The First Amendment cannot prevent the editor of a publication being fired.
Is the "NorthStar" a student organization? If so, does it have a faculty advisor? Might an advisor with seasoned judgment encourage a more civil and thoughtful tone with the publication's content? I don't mind reading libertarian ideas at all.
The NorthStar announces on its cover that the first copy is free but it'll cost you $5 for any more. Does UMM have a policy on whether a student publication can charge for single copy sales? What is the method of collecting the money? Where would you go to pay? Is there a process for making sure the money is deposited in some appropriate place?
It seems clear to me that the $5 charge is not what it appears to be. The NorthStar knows there will be certain individuals out there who will be tempted to confiscate the publication, based on the offense taken. The NorthStar has great power - it is allowed to place its own newsstands around campus. It is not some website where you can voluntarily visit, depart or ignore.
I have suggested in the past that the people behind "NorthStar" ought to just go online. Offensive material seems less threatening online.
To my knowledge, NorthStar is one of two student publications operating under the imprimatur of UMM. That's quite a platform. Last spring there was an issue with a huge cover photo of a well-known feminist with a caption suggesting simply that this person is ugly, and is a typical-looking feminist. This is not responsible communications.
I noticed that the NorthStar newsstands seemed empty on the day of the UMM graduation. I wonder if the administration had enough leverage to ensure this. The NorthStar has been a disrupting and unfortunate phenomenon on the UMM campus for the past couple of years. If something is finally happening now, to do something about it, fine. But why did it take so long?
The University Register is totally consistent with UMM's values. If you want to call those values liberal or progressive, fine. Maybe UMM is an institution that in fact projects those values, because progressive values tend to be based on fact and reason, whereas conservatism turns more to impulses and emotions. You have to stand for something.
A libertarian publication done responsibly could exist indefinitely on the campus and not ruffle feathers. It would be an interesting diversion. It would not be on the level of a junior high cafeteria food fight. It would not be on the level of junior high boys' banter in the lavatory.
There are people who wish to promote UMM, who are concerned about such printed tripe being given credence of the campus. Listen, I believe in the "higher education bubble" theory which could spell ominous challenges for higher education down the road. We mustn't create or allow our own impediments in the meantime.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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