College of Saint Rose alumni back student newspaper’s claims that school is hindering press

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ALBANY, N.Y (NEWS10) — A couple dozen College of Saint Rose alumni are threatening to stop donating to the school after a report in the student newspaper that the press is being hindered.

Student journalists say their speech is being limited by the Marketing and Communications Department, but the school says they’re simply treating the students like any other media outlet.

Emily Paolicelli says her job as executive editor of the student newspaper, The Chronicle, is to assess the truth.

“With the kind of hindrance of the Public Relations Department, we’re unable to get to that pure unaltered truth of it,” she said.

Saint Rose’s media policy requires any requests to interview faculty go through the Public Relations Office. Paolicelli says, recently, that’s caused roadblocks.

“There was a point where we were receiving the same exact message verbatim so we knew this wasn’t the employees’ own accord; it was coming from somewhere else, so we decided to look into it,” she said.

In December, a group of eight student reporters published an article claiming they faced issues obtaining information from sources employed by the college.

“We spoke to a few other academic institutions, and they didn’t seem to have the same kind of hindrances that we do,” said Paolicelli

In response, this month, a group of alumni wrote a letter to the editor. It was made out to former executive editor and recent graduate Aileen Burke.

“We would just have trouble scheduling things, and just outright, sometimes, interview requests that formerly wouldn’t have been a problem, were getting denied,” she said.

The letter, signed by 28 alumni, said they’d stop donating to the school until what they called the “media blockade” was lifted.

“Why I signed on was because I believe in journalistic integrity and I believe in our students, and they shouldn’t have to go through all these hoops,” said one of the alums, who didn’t want to be identified.

Even though the initial article calls it a “protocol change,” college spokesperson Jennifer Gish says the guidelines have been in place for more than 20 years and, “Work on a student newspaper prepares students for the field of journalism, and so interacting with our student journalists in the same way that we interact with media professionals is important to students’ real-world, hands-on education.”

If nothing else, Paolicelli says it was a pleasant surprise to get the support of alumni.

“We seem to be facing such scrutiny, even we’re villainized sometimes and it’s just really refreshing to see that someone has our back,” she said.

Students and some faculty members are holding a panel on free speech on January 24th at the Niel Hellman Library from 5-7 PM.

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