Stop the Presses!

Stop the Presses!

In the wake of the recent closure of the newspaper at TCU’s sister school, the university plans to re-examine its relationship with la Universidad de las Americas, the provost said. The administration at UDLA shut down La Catarina, the school’s newspaper, Jan. 16. La Catarina staff members said the closure was in response to cartoons criticizing the university’s chancellor, Pedro Palou, published in the paper.

The university’s administration has denied the charge, although some allege resignations were forced upon those who spoke out against the administration’s actions.

Provost Nowell Donovan responded to the recent closure of the newspaper at UDLA, with an official university statement.

“We are saddened and greatly perturbed by what we have read both in correspondence with UDLA and in Mexican national press,” Donovan said, “Unjust censorship is not part of the ethos of TCU nor should it be of any university. Consequently, with due care and consideration, we are examining our entire relationship with UDLA.”

La Catarina was established in 2000, with the help of The Skiff, said Carlos Dominguez Martinez, a former member of the La Catarina staff.

He said in the first few months of the newspaper’s publication, Skiff staff members visited UDLA to present the Skiff as an example of independent media. Also, four members of the La Catarina staff visited TCU to learn how the Skiff was published.

Astrid Viveros, a student reporter for La Catarina, said the publication was one of the first university newspapers in Mexico to be managed by students.

TCU and UDLA have been sister universities for 15 years. Donovan said the program with UDLA involves agreements in which the schools exchange students, as well as pay reciprocal faculty visits. He said the programs have, in the past, been beneficial to both universities.

Donovan said to the best of his knowledge, TCU has never been involved in a situation of this sort in its relations with other institutions of higher learning.

“These programs may very well lapse as a result of the actions of the administration at UDLA,” Donovan said.

Adolfo C¢rdova Ortiz, a former staff member of La Catarina, said the closure of the newspaper is “proof of the fragility and, many times, the false freedom of expression in Mexico.”

Felipe Flores, the director of social communication at UDLA, said the closure of La Catarina is temporary, and the newspaper will reopen as part of a university social service project.

Alumni from the university said the newspaper was never intended to be a social service project but rather as a space for information and expression of opinion for the UDLA community.

“At this point, I think the only way to reassure the independence of the newspaper is to bring it back to the department of communication sciences where its freedom of speech was guaranteed,” a faculty member at UDLA said.

The faculty member declined to be identified by name in fear of being fired.

The faculty member said the administration is pressuring the editorial board to accept the restructuring of the newspaper, which will make La Catarina an official channel of the institution supervised by administration.

The professor said if this occurs, the newspaper, “will no longer be an academic experience.”

Though the future relations with UDLA are uncertain, Donovan said much more investigation will take place before a decision of how to proceed is made.

“I have visited UDLA and found it to be a beautiful, stimulating and energetic campus peopled by students who are inquisitive, kind and thoughtful just like students in the world over,” Donovan said. “It grieves me that this has happened because it besmirches the universal academy of learning which is what both TCU and UDLA are proud members of.”

Jane Kucko, director of international studies, and Bonnie Melhart, associate provost, declined to comment on the issue and forwarded questions to Donovan.