Georgetown’s student newspaper of record, The Hoya, has battled to attain editorial and financial independence from its university, with a recent push in the last two years. The school has dashed the budding journalists’ plans, most recently with a trademark claim that would prevent the paper from using its name if it were to break free from the shackles of the administration.
An advisory board of university officials and students controls the budget of The Hoya, which in recent years has produced surpluses upwards of $100,000. Administrators are quick to redistribute the profits to other student media organizations, but are not keen on letting Hoya editors freely spend their own money. The relationship between the newspaper staff and the administration has been tenuous at best, and entirely combative at worst. Such a situation benefits neither the students attempting to learn the news business at a school without a journalism major or the Georgetown community at large.
Hampering the freedom of the student press does a serious disservice to any university. Regarded as the “fourth estate” of government in the professional world, newspapers fill a niche in society by keeping the branches of government in check. Such a watchdog role is necessary at institutions of higher education, which have issues of crime, corruption and finances to report on. This role is all the more essential at conservative-run schools, such as Georgetown, where the administration is more tight-lipped about how it operates.
This page stands in solidarity with its fellow practitioners of collegiate journalism in the nation’s capital. Our neighboring school should let its talented and capable students report and opine on the news how they see fit, and allow them to govern their own finances. Georgetown administrators should stop stalling The Hoya’s pursuit of independence with trademark claims and the micromanaging of the newspaper’s affairs.