After being shut down by authorities for printing an allegedly "raunchy" sex issue, student journalists at Central New Mexico Community College say censorship makes them "just want to be journalists more."
CNMCC's Chronicle, the weekly student paper, hit stands this Tuesday at around 10am. Approximately four hours later, says Editor-in-Chief Jyllian Roach, the dean of students had called her into his office. She says the dean informed her that Phillip Bustos, vice president of student services at the publicly funded college, said that the issue that hit stands this Tuesday was "raunchy." It was about sex, and Roach says she was informed that administration was temporarily shutting down the paper. The student workers there would be placed in other campus jobs.
An hour later, she says that emails came in from students informing her "that representatives of the administration were actually going around campus and removing copies of the issue from the stands."
"And even from students' hands," Roach adds.
You can decide for yourselves whether the issue was "raunchy" by clicking here.
To summarize: Inside the issue, six students are asked about their favorite sex positions ("I'm a missionary guy, straight up," one student tells the paper.) There's a section informing students of sexuality resources.
Another section—"A Rainbow of Sexuality"—asks students questions like "How did you realize what your sexuality was?" A student is interviewed about why she chooses to abstain from sex. There are stats about sex and a feature about how to buy a safe sex toy, "because
those are not things that are regulated by any agency and some of them are
dangerous," Roach says.
Another article features the classes at the Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center, including "Bystander Intervention: How bystander intervention creates communities more responsive to sexual violence"; "Coming Together: How to Orgasm During Sex"; and "Interactive Blow Job Skills." The last section "Safe, sane and sexual" informs students about the kink world of BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism).
Roach sums it up as an issue that's "basically designed to be educational."
Channel 4 KOB reports that administrators released a statement: "CNM does not have a journalism program, which has limited the college's ability to provide the education and training that students need to appropriately operate a newspaper that is distributed to a student body of nearly 30,000."
Dial back to a March 8 CNM statement—touting the fact that the Chronicle took third place in the Associate Collegiate Press' Best in Show Awards—and you get the sense that the administration may be contradicting itself. One day, the student paper is award-winning, a reason to attend CNM. A few weeks later, it's temporarily suspended because students can't "appropriately operate" the paper?
Roach, however, notes that the paper has a faculty advisor, Jack Ehn, a former longtime Albuquerque Tribune journalist. The staff of the paper also attends journalism training programs. The paper—like any college paper—has had to run corrections, but nothing major, Roach says. Administrators were also not happy about the paper's coverage of an instructor "terminated under questionable circumstances," she adds.
Like many at the Chronicle, Roach says she plans on attending the University of New Mexico to pursue journalism. They might have more editorial freedom there: The Daily Lobo, UNM's student paper, announced that it will not publish its paper issues, "until the CNM administration agrees to reinstate Chronicle staff members to their former positions at the paper and allow the newspaper to remain free of faculty, staff or administrative oversight."
The incident, Roach says, has made Chronicle staffers "just want to be journalists more."
As for the administration, she says the incident has showed that, "you don't have your own voice at CNM."
"We are the student voice, and they have silenced the student voice," she says.
Despite several calls and emails to administrators, SFR has not yet received a response. We'll update this post as soon as we get one.