Magazine article Insight on the News

Students Confront Campus News Bias

Magazine article Insight on the News

Students Confront Campus News Bias

Article excerpt

Despite the general lack of support from the liberal university establishment, conservative college newspapers nationwide continue to spark intellectual debate and challenge the left.

For years conservative students have complained about left-wing student newspapers. Last year Chris Lilik, now a senior at Villanova University in Philadelphia, decided he'd had enough. "When I saw the hate and disgust directed at students who voiced conservative, libertarian or even pro-life opinions on a Catholic campus," Lilik tells Insight, "I was inspired to fight."

Along with fellow conservative students, Lilik started the Villanova Times, a 20-page biweekly newspaper that includes campus news, sports, entertainment, features, humor, and opinion. As a direct competitor of the Villanovan, the university's official student newspaper, the Villanova Times published 10 issues and played host to nationally known conservative speakers. A speech at Villanova by National Rife Association President Charlton Heston received national attention when the administration tried unsuccessfully to stop the gun advocate's appearance on the campus.

Times investigative reporting found that Villanova's bank, First Union, financially supports Planned Parenthood, a group that advocates and provides abortions. Villanova is an institution of the Roman Catholic Church, which condemns abortion. But Lilik says Fr. John Stack, Villanova's vice president of student life, assured him that Planned Parenthood wasn't "that bad of an organization."

The first-year newspaper also confronted what it saw as the administration's left-wing agenda on other issues. It took professor June Lytel-Murphey to task for accusing campus conservatives of being "to the right of Hitler." When a local radio station distributed condoms on campus, the newspaper rang with indignation at what it regarded as an insult to faithful Catholics.

Like the Villanova Times, the Oregon Commentator provides students at the University of Oregon with news coverage, investigative reporting, commentary and comedy from a conservative perspective. According to editor Bill Beutler, "The Commentator was started as a newspaper in September 1983 by conservative students upset with the liberal bias of the campus daily, the Oregon Daily Emerald."

Publishing 15 issues a year, the 24-page biweekly has a press run of 2,500 copies per issue and an estimated readership of nearly one-half the campus. "We also are widely read by faculty and in the community -- not infrequently by those who disagree with us, if the content of our e-mall inbox has anything to say," Beutler reports. …

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