Thursday, December 15, 2005

Dental School Blogger: Media Coverage

Just wrapping up some loose ends:

The WISN Radio “Early Spin” blog has a post from Dan Deibert chastizing Marquette over the decision to suspend the student blogger. (Scroll down to see the post.)
When I got home, I had that story on the top of my stack and I read the entire thing. I will now say this: Suspending this kid is just dead wrong. It was HIS blog, on HIS time.
The Marquette Tribune ran an editorial on the subject, under the heading “Dental student unduly punished.”
The expelled student could argue that the university rule in question was not clear enough with regards to off-campus speech. He could also argue that Marquette received money from the government for the dental school building, and in that way is a government actor, broadening the student’s right to free speech, according to Erik Ugland, a professor of media law at Marquette. Ugland said in an e-mail interview that he hoped the university would rescind its suspension.

“Continuing with this suspension would set a terrible precedent” regarding online services at Marquette, Ugland wrote.

We fully agree with Ugland and other professors that publicly criticized the university for its decision. This suspension is an egregious error in judgment that must be immediately rectified.
Finally, Charlie Sykes gave the Dental School the “Deep Tunnel” award. (Actually, it was the second runner up, but that’s hardly an honor.) The “deep tunnel” is Milwaukee’s hugely expensive and inadequate combined storm and sanitary sewer. Thus the award goes to “the person, politician or institution that was, in the last week, like MMSD’s almost somewhat not quite deep enough tunnel the ‘most full of it.’”

How in the world could the Dental School do something so utterly at odds with the considered judgment of so many people, including liberals and conservatives, professors and media people, and just ordinary citizens? We’ve long insisted that places like the Office of Student Development, the President’s Office and the Provost’s office have insular and isolated cultures. But the Dental School apparently tops them all.

Dean William Lobb can mitigate the damage by overturning the harsh sentence imposed on the student blogger. But he has to be, to a distressing degree, both the product of and the person responsible for the insular culture.


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