Category Archives: letters

New link

Michelle Parrish, Managing Editor 03-04 wrote a great piece on her company’s marketing blog: http://www.unboundedition.com/content/view/6565/50/

Here’s an excerpt:

In addition, the university’s lawyers have now demanded copies of 30 years of syllabi from every class Dr. Meyer taught at SLU. All of this in an attempt to revoke Dr. Meyer’s tenure. All of this to a professor whose passion for teaching and respect for journalistic integrity has impacted thousands of students.

Why is this happening? It comes down to freedom of speech. Dr. Meyer is tenured. He speaks his mind and is not afraid to question authority. University President Rev. Lawrence Biondi hates that fact. It’s become personal.

SLU needs to recognize that it is ruining its reputation with those thousands of alumni – those faithful brand ambassadors. By refusing to listen to its “customers” – the students who pay top dollar for their education – the school risks a strong backlash from its most valuable populations.

In fact, a movement is already growing. In an age of social media, blogs and instant communication, information is readily available and news spreads fast. E-mails have circulated from students who vow never to open their pocketbooks until the issue is resolved. Social networks like Facebook allow alumni to keep in touch with former classmates, including those who have gone on to become influential journalists, or, more importantly, major donors.

And why do these former students care so much anyway? Because Dr. Meyer is truly unlike any other professor.

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Letter from Eric Holthaus

Provost Weixlmann, Mr. Berry, and Rev. Biondi:

I am writing to express my disgust and outrage at the recent actions of the administration to restrict (by various means) Dr. Avis Meyer from continued service to the University News as advisor.

Let’s leave all the whispers of conspiracy to restrict student voice, histories of personal vendettas, and rumors of continued legal and financial threats out of this, and stick to the facts:  a tenured professor with a multiple decades-long dedication and experience (and history of criticizing the administration) has lost his role as official advisor to a student-run campus newspaper, been threatened with legal bills, and may lose tenure.  This alone is shameful, but taken together with the implications on preserving an independent student voice on campus it is unacceptable.

This is not Myanmar.  The Constitution protects freedom of speech without censorship – and while that freedom has not been violated at the UNews in letter, it has been violated in spirit.  How comfortable would I feel as a current editor of the UNews to publish an editorial criticizing the University administration for its actions on this topic, knowing my tuition/stipend might be revoked in response?

SLU teaches its students to be “men and women for others” yet its administration has continually shown concern only for themselves (and the almighty dollar). 

I’ll be the first to commend Rev. Biondi and the rest of the administration on their efforts over the last decade-plus to enhance the stature of the university, but they won’t do it with any more of my money.  I suspect other alumni might feel the same way.   And given the administration’s history with student affairs such as these, how many more incidents must we tolerate?

As an unhappy former editor of the UNews, I urge you to immediately reinstate Dr. Avis Meyer in his full role as faculty advisor of the Unews, and drop any legal fees and further actions against him.

Respectfully,

Eric Holthaus
University News Photography Editor, 2002-2003

Letter from Andrew C. Emmerich

“A longtime adviser to Saint Louis University’s student newspaper, The University News, may no longer enter the paper’s newsroom, university Provost Joe Weixlmann ordered Tuesday.
In a June 3 e-mail to Professor Avis Meyer, Weixlmann wrote he would ‘block your access to the newsroom’ if Meyer continued to assist the News within its facilities.”   http://www.splc.org/newsflash.asp?id=1766
© 2008 Student Press Law Center
Tell me, when will this stop?  Why is a professor, tenured and respected in the community, who wishes to help a rather unsupported–and I include Jason Young (administration’s lap-dog) in that statement–student run newspaper such a threat?

Disagreeing with Jason Young “in front of student reporters and editors” is not only wonderful, but was actively encouraged by myself when I served as Op/Ed Editor of the News during the Fall of 2007.  Disagreements and differences in opinions are what fuel the Op/Ed section of the paper, and whether you, or Father Biondi wish to believe it, the final decision was always made by the Editorial Board–never Young or Meyer.

As long as Saint Louis University maintains its reign of terror upon free press, there will be no financial support coming from me, or many of the families I keep in contact with, for building a better SLU.  These brutish tactics must stop, for if they do not, you–and the rest of administration–will leave nothing but a legacy of pretty flowers and buildings and discontented graduates who have no desire to donate money to the University, now or in the future.

I truly do hope that SLU realizes the error of its ways and quickly drops any litigation against Dr. Meyer, ceases any investigation of his 30+ years of teaching, and leaves The University News to its own business (the business of reporting the unbiased news).  Perhaps, when these tasks are completed, I and many others, will be more willing to walk back into the fold of Saint Louis University…with our checkbooks open.

Until then, my best wishes,

Andrew C. Emmerich
The University News
Op/Ed Editor, 2007
Saint Louis University
College of Education and Public Service, 2008