By now we hope you’ve realized that this week’s front page of the Trinitonian is phony (hence the name the Triniphonian), and we also hope that you participated in the events celebrating the First Amendment this past week. More importantly, we hope that the events and the Triniphonian, while at times comical, have caused you to stop and think about a topic that is anything but a joke: our First Amendment rights.
As U.S. citizens we are privileged to have the First Amendment, which is intended to protect the right to freely express our opinions and practice what we believe. As members of a private university community, we are not automatically guaranteed those rights, but are fortunate because administrators recognize the importance of free expression, especially in a learning environment.
Unfortunately, others are not so lucky. In countries around the world, designated forums for expression like traditional media outlets are barred from voicing opposition to the government or even highlighting the bad. Likewise, individuals themselves are censored and unable to voice their opinions through actual or virtual protest (remember that the next time you sound off on Facebook or Twitter).
Even in our own country, citizens and organizations are censored and subjected to prior restraint. One of the most recent examples stemmed from an incident at the University of Georgia with the independent newspaper The Red & Black. In her letter of resignation, Polina Marinova, then editor-in-chief, voiced concerns over the recent veto power given to an editorial oversight board. She said the paper felt pressured to “assign stories they didn’t agree with, take “˜grip and grin’ photos and compromise the design of the paper.” The editorial board, while not affiliated with the university, made decisions that favored the financial interests of the paper, rather than serving readers through good journalism.
For us at the Trinitonian, this August incident reminded us of the importance of freedom of the press. We recognize and appreciate that we have the ability to ask difficult questions and critique the system. We also recognize that this is a privilege at our private university, and not necessarily a right.
In the special Triniphonian section we published articles addressing topics such as campus dining options, tuition prices and construction. We know these issues are important and they’ll always be hot topics of conversation, but we hope it’s not lost on anyone that we’re lucky we get to talk about these issues at all.
If you learn nothing else from this week, we hope you at least think before you express yourself, not necessarily in terms of what you’re saying or doing””although that is highly encouraged””but about the fact that you are privileged to express yourself at all.