BREAKING: Hoya independence delayed due to April Fools’ Issue

Although earlier this year it was looking like the Hoya was set to realize its long-standing goal of independence from the University, one of the sanctions imposed on them over their controversial April Fools’ Issue is a one year delay of their emancipation.

According to emails obtained by the Voice, in mid-April the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action filed a complaint with Media Board, the funding board that oversees student media, over the Hoya‘s April Fools Issue.  On April 22, Media Board issued sanctions, including a one year delay of the Hoya‘s planned independence.

The Hoya appealed Media Board’s ruling, citing their unwillingness to remain tied to the University, but their appeal was denied on June 16, documents show. A three person appeals board composed of Father Christopher Steck, S.J., GUSA President Calen Angert (MSB ’11), and Faculty Senate President Wayne Davis decided that Media Board had acted within their rights and that the ruling should not be overturned.

The Voice will have more information in our Friday issue.

18 Comments on “BREAKING: Hoya independence delayed due to April Fools’ Issue

  1. The way to avoid things like the April Fools issue is to allow the Hoya to pay its writers, thereby allowing lower income students to commit time to the paper and also ensure higher quality work. So basically, blocking independence makes it more likely that something like the nonsense April Fools garbage happens again. As always, brilliant move, Georgetown.

  2. Well, I think this is the best argument for the Hoya’s independence: that a “Media Board” can “sanction” a newspaper for their poor judgment.

    Was the April Fools Edition crass? Yes. Insensitive? Yes. Unfunny? Especially so.

    What’s the proper response? Turn to the Voice! Boycott the Hoya. Encourage advertisers to pull out. Etc. A university “sanction” is an affront to its supposed commitment to the freedom of speech and of the press; especially since it’s clear that no “hate crime” was committed.

    Also, I echo Tim’s comments above.

  3. Would’ve been nice to see more students on that little panel to decide such things.

  4. Setting aside any issues of censorship, I think this decision may have inadvertently saved the Hoya from financial disaster this fall. Do they really expect to be able to make enough advertising revenue to self-sustain WITHOUT the University funneling advertisers to their front door?

  5. It’s not censorship at all. The Hoya still has the right to publish, recruit, and distribute on campus, with University funding no less.

    The University has a right to decide when and to whom to license its trademarks. In this case the Hoya leadership demonstrated that they weren’t worthy of receiving the license for their privatized operation, so the University sensibly decided to wait a year until the leadership had changed and, hopefully, matured.

    Many students and alumni are monitoring the situation closely and are pleased that the University has delayed the decision to license the name of their beloved Hoyas to an organization with a history of publishing racist material.

  6. Anonymous, if this was about Georgetown trying to keep its registered trademark off racist material, why wouldn’t they take the step of revoking The Hoya’s permission to use their name, regardless of whether they’re independent or not? I think forcing The Hoya to use another name for a year would send a message that the University does not condone what they did. But this reaction just seems like they’re using the April Fool’s Issue as an excuse to extend their control over campus media. They’ve dragged their feet forever on the independence issue, and this just gave them an opportunity to continue doing it. If they were so opposed to The Hoya publishing racist material, they would want to dissociate themselves from the paper, not keep it an official part of the University.

  7. Hmm, the university doesn’t do a whole lot of “funneling advertisers to their front door” for The Hoya. They quite simply do not. In fact, university groups, department, and organizations don’t make up a very overwhelming of The Hoya’s rather robust advertising revenue. That said, whether the number of university groups that DO advertise with The Hoya changes because of the April Fools issue is unknown to this recent alum.

  8. Bailey I think you misunderstood Hmm’s statement. I don’t think he’s talking about university stakeholders advertising themselves, I think he’s talking about all the advertisers who approach the university about advertising opportunities and are referred to the Hoya.

    and J. Stuef, I think that your argument that if they really wanted to punish the Hoya, they’d make them change their name is a bit beside the point. The issue with the name isn’t the most important — by staying part of the university and using the name, they at least remain answerable to the university. If they were independent and licensed the name, the university wouldn’t have any recourse but pulling that license. (This would potentially break the contract, and if it didn’t then I could see the Hoya still claiming this power = de facto censorship.)

    There’s a difference between letting them keep the name but not giving them independence and letting them license the name once they’re independent. It’s not as simple as “do they have the name or not.” I really don’t think the university’s actions should be seen as that controversial, and I’m usually very anti-university and pro-Hoya independence.

  9. The U is, for whatever reason, not interested in a free student press. Until they are, I am not interested in interviewing applicants or making a donation and I hope that other people take the same stance.

    I used to do judo with a prof from GW and he thought our attempt at independence was hysterical because even he knew Georgetown would try as hard as possible to kill it while saving face. Sad.

    And, “Huh”,
    Ads do not get into The Hoya like that. Advertisers approach The Hoya or a middleman, or The Hoya approaches those parties.

  10. Huh, my argument was that the name is beside the point. And the name was always beside the point for the University. The name issue has never been about protecting Georgetown’s trademark and the reputation of the trademark, as their response here shows. The name issue was a method of trying to force The Hoya to remain under their control. And their response here is the same thing. They’re using this as an excuse to drag this thing out and try to keep the paper under their control, which has always been their goal.

  11. The real question is why the GUSA President is complicit in this scheme.

  12. “Do they really expect to be able to make enough advertising revenue to self-sustain WITHOUT the University funneling advertisers to their front door?”

    Terribly misinformed. The university doesn’t funnel a single dime or advertiser, etc., to The Hoya. The staff works with ad agencies and has contacts with past and potential advertisers much like any business. Come on, you really think Georgetown has some bureaucrat in charge of funneling ads to the student paper?

    The real question is why any so-called student or professor would want to be on something as Orwellian as to be named the “media board.”

    From a free speech standpoint, the April fools issue can’t be defended. But what would happen if the newspaper wrote a story that offended students but was legitimate, accurate, fairly reported–which campus editors reasonably aim for on all of the other 50-odd non-satirical newspaper issues that it publishes. If you don’t like the newspaper’s coverage, hey, make enough noise to the Media Board.

    Why the heck would Georgetown want to have this burden to deal with? If the paper was independent and students were unhappy with editorial decisions, the university would have a much better response: you don’t like it, it’s not our problem. Don’t complain to us, talk to their advertisers.

  13. But that would require legitimate, accurate, fairly-reported material! Most Hoya articles would get failing grades in high school journalism classes.

  14. that’s a joke, before the hoya writers who generally supply 85% of the comments on this blog flip out.

  15. Regarding the debate about where the Hoya’s money comes from, even if the Hoya does work with ad placement agencies, that doesn’t answer the question of whether it’ll remain profitable after it gets its independence.

    First of all, all print advertising is declining, which means the Hoya could be caught up in a larger trend. At a time when the editors of the Times and Journal are talking (albeit theoretically) about a “public assistance” model for the press industry, is the Hoya really in a position to claim invulnerability?

    Second of all, after the non-compete agreement of independence expires, the university could promote another paper which would grow and compete with the Hoya (for example, the Voice would get more resources, which could in turn hurt the Hoya).

    Third of all, the Hoya could lose some prestige as a result of no longer being officially affiliated with the university (even if it retains the name and “Newspaper of Record” slogan).

    Fourth of all, the Hoya would have added expenses, such as the need to pay insurance, pay competitive prices for rent (let’s not pretend renting from Georgetown is the same as renting space on M Street), possibly even start paying its staff as it has always said it wanted to do.

    Fifth of all, the Hoya could lose some resiliency. All clubs are cyclical, with good years and bad. Going independent could hurt the Hoya’s ability to recover from a few bad years, financially and in terms of student interest. The Hoya has had disastrous financial years this decade – and yes The Hoya’s leaders call it an aberration, but it could only take one more “aberration” sometime in the next 20 years to sink the paper.

    The list goes on. Like it or not, the university provided a lot of security for the Hoya, and, as many alums of The Hoya (such as myself) point out, there’s a risk that the Hoya could fail and not have anybody there to catch it. (Unless you want GUSA to bail it out, like the Carnegie-Mellon student govt bailed out their paper after it went independent and flopped!)

    Perhaps a larger point is that yes, The Hoya has been profitable the last few years. But that’s just it — it’s only been profitable the very last few years, during the height of the economic boom. The Hoya’s first profit was only a few years ago, and the number of years it’s been profitable can still be counted on two hands. It’s not like it’s been profitable for 10 years, much less 20, much less 50, much less 90. Five or six years of profitability doesn’t provide a strong case for future profitability, much less guarantee it.

    And lastly, this whole argument that the Hoya “deserves” its independence because it “earned” all the money it got and it deserves to “keep its earnings” is a farce. The Hoya was a financial ward of the university for the first 80 years of its existence, and it’s been subsidized by the university and by the student body for most of a century, up until just these last few years. The idea that just because it became profitable for a few years during the boom period means that it “deserves” its earnings is ludicrous. Perhaps this sense of self-aggrandizement, self-congratulation, and lack of perspective is why so many alums of The Hoya are skeptical of the short-sighted independence movement.

    I’m all for a free press, but let’s face it, this isn’t about freedom of the press. Georgetown doesn’t censor the Hoya, and even if it were independent the university would retain censorship ability via the licensing of the name, the authorization of distribution points on campus, and the sanctioning of student participation. If anything, the Hoya going independent could lead to greater pressure by ultra-Catholics for the university to reject outright the “independent” voice of the paper. It probably has more freedom as university property than it would if it were independent.

    Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s not about a “free press,” it’s about money. I’m an alum of The Hoya, and everybody who works there knows as much. I’m not saying I’m entirely against independence, but it’s not the paper’s birthright and it isn’t even the biggest issue.

  16. Pingback: Vox Populi » Confused by the Media Board’s Hoya Independence decision? Check out these memos!

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