For those of you settling into your dorms for your first summer at UNF, you now have a level of freedom unmatched by your years living at home.
Helicopter parents are now faced with a no-fly zone, unable to censor your impressionable minds from the “dangerous” world; you’re now able explore new ideas and express yourself in a way your home environment may have inhibited; you are now free to become the person you want to be.
Have fun: Explore Jacksonville, throw yourself headlong into your studies, get involved in philanthropy, party. Do whatever you’re going to do within the realm of U.S. law — it would be silly for us to advise anything else. After all, did you not leave home looking forward to the freedom you thought the college experience would provide?
But enrolling in a university doesn’t necessarily guarantee you the level of freedom you seek. In fact, not even participating in an independent, campus-based news organization relieves you from threats that ultimately amount to censorship.
Some of you newcomers to UNF may recall the Spinnaker mentioning the word “marijuana” while presenting what our organization does during one of the Friday orientations this summer. While describing what students can find in the paper, we indicated that marijuana busts can be found in our “Police Beat.”
Following one such orientation presentation, the Spinnaker was approached by an orientation staff member who requested we not use the word “marijuana.” The justification: students could then tell their parents about this, at which point the context in which “marijuana” was presented (a police report) would be lost.
The effective interpretation by the parent could then be something like, ‘my child was told where to get pot on campus,’ which of course would lead to various woes for the Spinnaker, including a loss of university funding and removal from future orientation events.
The Spinnaker cannot dispute the possibility that some students and parents will take certain things we publish or say out of context. Nor can the Spinnaker take responsibility if this happens.
It is, however, the Spinnaker’s responsibility to inform and entertain readers while staying in the realm of facts. So, when told that the possibility of exclusion from future orientation events exists, a serious issue presented itself.
By informing the orientation students what can be found in Police Beat, we were promoting what we report. With the possibility of exclusion from future orientation events presented, we were essentially faced with a threat for talking about what we report. This is not far away from the “chilling effect,” which is a legal term used to describe the discouragement of constitutional rights via legal action.
People get caught smoking pot around campus — it’s a fact, as police reports (public records) which we adapt into our “Police Beat” will confirm.
If we make a mistake, we correct it and then apologize when necessary — any journalism student will assure you that when we make an error, we truly are excruciatingly sorry.
Consider this editorial a greeting from, and introduction to, the Spinnaker: We are **your** media source for news and entertainment.
We will make no attempts to shelter you from the world. It’s ambivalently cruel and beautiful out there, as the stories in this issue should demonstrate.
People smoke pot, people pass away, people devote their lives to promoting peace.
We’ll continue informing you of such events.