At De Anza College in Cupertino, a number of student senators found themselves in hot water this month after they removed nearly 500 copies of the campus newspaper, the La Voz Weekly, from newsstands around campus.
The senators accused of lifting the newspapers were attempting to hide a front-page article exposing allegations that senate members had violated the De Anza Associated Student Body Code of Conduct by drinking alcohol and receiving sexual favors in the senate offices.
California Penal Code 490.7 reads in part “No person shall take more than 25 copies of the current issue of a free or complimentary newspaper,” to “deprive others of the opportunity to read them.”
While our Associated Students of Riverside City College are under no such allegation, there is an important lesson to be learned here.
When two groups on campus that are made “by students, for students” clash, an important connection is broken. But each group aims to serve a specific purpose, and
that of Viewpoints is to publish news, as well as opinion articles.
In our last issue, an editorial was published that voiced the opinion of the Viewpoints staff regarding statements student body president Doug Figueroa made at a forum for the student body elections held April 30 and May 1.
Shortly after Viewpoints was delivered to newsstands, a post was made to the ASRCC Facebook profile regarding the article.
The post included a quote removed from its original context in the opinions section of the newspaper.
“If there’s one thing we want to believe after all the secrets,” read the excerpt, “It’s that Figueroa and the rest of ASRCC student government is committed to improving RCC, and keeping the promises that they have collectively made.”
A slew of comments appeared on the post, both supporting and dismissing Viewpoints before it was deleted from the groups page altogether.
Since publishing a story in early April exposing Figueroa’s criminal background, tensions have been high between student government and Viewpoints.
However, here on campus, the two groups actually have a lot in common.
Both groups strive to improve the student experience at RCC by working as a team to provide valuable resources and information to our fellow students.
One of the main differences though, is that while Viewpoints students earn units and a grade for their participation with the newspaper, Associated Students do
not. Their work is completely on a volunteer basis.
And just by paying a visit to the ASRCC website, it’s obvious that the minds behind the group are hard at work.
“The foundation we are building upon is to be the voice for the student body as a whole, building future leaders through fostering talent, creating lifelong friendships and making connections that students will never forget,” reads the home page of ASRCC’s website, rivasrcc.org.
So when something as shocking as President Figueroa’s conviction comes to light, of course it’s going to make local news, and that should start with RCC’s own Viewpoints.
While the writers had no intention of ruining anyone’s credibility or reputation, it should be understood that the writers and editors involved in the production of Viewpoints have only wanted to provide our fellow students with transparency on the subject.
“Viewpoints students provide a public service by producing and circulating a public forum newspaper published for the exchange of information and opinion about events and issues primarily involving or affecting the college community,” reads a portion of the Viewpoints Mission Statement.
The writers and editors at the La Voz Weekly were probably aiming for the same transparency and credibility in their associated students.
But as the old phrase goes, “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.”