Senator rescinds proposal to de-charter The Brandeis Hoot

April 12, 2019

Class of 2019 Senator Kent Dinlenc formally introduced a proposal to de-charter The Brandeis Hoot at the senate meeting held this past Sunday. This proposal was rescinded late on Thursday night, April 11 in a Facebook post by Dinlenc.

Dinlenc’s nine-page proposal to the senate states  “…as important as the presence of an independent student-run newspaper is on campus, Brandeis already has one in existence: The Justice.” In his proposal Dinlenc claims that The Hoot “…blatantly violates the Duality of Purpose amendment.”

The amendment in question, found in the bylaws in Article VIII Section 2, clause C, states: “In order to be eligible for accreditation, a prospective club must…. Not duplicate the purpose or goals of an existing club. If the prospective club’s operations, impact, and student appeal would substantively be the same as that of an existing club, then it should not be accredited. A group has duality of purpose if it has duality of operations, impact, and appeal. Collectively, this standard is called Duality of Purpose.”

Dinlenc, in his capacity as Senate Co-Chair of the Sustainability Committee (SenSus), met separately with editorial staff from both newspapers in mid-March to discuss sustainability. Dinlenc was a staff writer for the Justice’s arts section but denies this being a factor in his proposal, stating at the senate meeting, “I criticize both equally.” Dinlenc resigned from the Justice on April 6, after pressure from the Justice editorial staff, according to the letter from the editor published on April 7 by the Justice.

When Dinlenc met with Sarah Terrazano ’19, Editor-in-Chief of The Hoot, to discuss sustainability, Terrazano said that the meeting “seemed more like a gathering of information for sustainability purposes.” According to Terrazano, the duality of purpose bylaw was never discussed. Dinlenc expressed interest in merging the two newspapers. In an interview with The Hoot, Terrazano said, “I told him I couldn’t make the decision by myself and needed to talk to the rest of the editorial board but told him that a merger was unlikely.”

Dinlenc sent out a survey in a Facebook post regarding the interest in and sustainability of having two student newspapers on campus last Wednesday. A couple of hours later, Dinlenc added a different version of the post, removing any mention of the Senate Sustainability Committee, also known as SenSus, of which he is the senate co-chair.

But in the senate meeting on Sunday, Dinlenc refers to this survey, although the word “sustainability” only appears once in his proposal. In an email interview with The Hoot last week, Dinlenc wrote that the point of the survey was to “…gather the opinions of the student body regarding the presence of 2 campus newspapers and whether or not they see it as an issue from a sustainability standpoint.” In his proposal, Dinlenc admitted that “…the survey has accrued only 72 responses” but only “… 51 unbiased opinions out of 3,639 undergraduates.”

Dinlenc plans to remove biased responses from students who have written for either The Hoot or the Justice. Dinlenc continued that he would share the results with the senate if the survey reached the threshold of five percent (182 unbiased students). As of April 11, the survey had only received 98 total votes and 77 unbiased.

In the senate meeting introducing his proposal, Dinlenc said the issue of The Hoot was “Ultimately…a bylaws issue and an environment issue, and it’s a redundancy that we do not need.”

“Brandeis is the only, only university in the country that produces two papers on campus,” Dinlenc stated. He added that “…there is little to no ideological issue between the two [The Hoot and the Justice.]”

In an interview with The Hoot, Celia Young ’21, news editor of The Hoot refuted both of these claims. “We are not the only small school with two newspapers. Oberlin comes to mind.” And when asked about the differences between the two papers, Young said that she considered The Hoot to be “more investigative.”

“We focus more on the Brandeis community because the Justice also focuses on the Waltham community and the Bentley community,” Young told the senators at the meeting on Sunday.

Senator for Off Campus Students Jacob Diaz ’20 also took issue with Dinlenc’s claims that having two on-campus newspapers was outside the norm. “We are Brandeis; we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to other universities,” said Diaz.

In the introduction of his proposal at the senate meeting, Dinlenc also claimed that The Hoot and the Justice’s constitutions were too similar. “Their ethics policy is pretty much copy paste,” said Dinlenc. He also claimed that “there is no barrier in transition from working in one paper and also working in another, other than the rivalry that is already present.”

Young, at the senate meeting, refuted both these claims. “There is a barrier of transition in the Justice according to Article 2 Section 4 of the Justice constitution: No staff member can write for a competing publication. That means that Justice writers are not allowed to write for The Hoot,” said Young. She also added, “The Justice and The Hoot are both newspapers; we’re obviously going to have similar codes of ethics.”

Young also disagreed with Dinlenc’s main two arguments for de-chartering The Hoot. Regarding duality of purpose, Young stated that “..the argument has been brought up before, but generations of Union members have held up The Hoot even though this bylaw does exist.” She added, “I think it doesn’t apply to use because The Hoot and the Justice are very different. We cover different things.”

Young cited research that she and Sabrina Chow ’21, opinions editor of The Hoot, conducted where they compared articles from The Hoot and the Justice from this spring semester. According to Young, she and Chow found that “at least double the content is different,” and “…usually it’s more than double.”

Young also lamented the “poor timing” of the proposal, a sentiment Vice President of the Student Union Aaron Finkel ’19 seemed to share when interviewed by The Hoot. “Usually big proposals get introduced in one meeting, deliberated in the next and amended if necessary and voted on in the next,” said Finkel. He cited the club consultant proposal as an example.

“The proposal [from Dinlenc] was officially brought forward within a day while the club consultant proposal was brought up in several meetings, and there were several conversations with clubs before that,” said Finkel.

He expressed his regret for the lack of further debate. “We need to give it a lot more time.” Finkel added that he “would encourage everyone over the next couple of days, if they have opinions, to make their voice heard and talk to their senators.”

In response to the proposal, The Hoot editorial board penned a petition, asking students, clubs, and “non-Brandeis affiliated individuals” to show their support. The Hoot also circulated a letter, written by alum David Pepose ’08, asking alumni for support.

The letter in the petition states, “The Hoot is more than just a newspaper to us; it is our livelihood, our pride and joy and a family of dozens—if not hundreds—of current students and alumni.” They ask readers to “stand in solidarity with [them] and support that The Hoot should not be de-chartered as a club on campus.”

As of late Thursday afternoon, the petition has been signed by 515 current students and recent alumni, 65 campus clubs and has garnered support from non-Brandeis affiliated clubs and individuals. The alumni letter of support has 60 signatures from Hoot alumni and 93 general Brandeis alumni.

When asked about the petition and her experience, Young said, “This has shown me that The Hoot is a family. It’s not just a newspaper, or a club or something people forget after they graduate—it’s a family that is there for you for life.”

Dinlenc declined an in-person interview, instead referring The Hoot to his proposal.

The senate will no longer vote on the proposal to de-charter The Hoot, because as of 11:39 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, the de-charter proposal was rescinded by Dinlenc.

19 Senator Kent Dinlenc ’19 formally introduced a proposal to de-charter The Brandeis Hoot at the senate meeting held this past Sunday. This proposal was rescinded late on Thursday night, April 11 in a Facebook post by Dinlenc.

Dinlenc’s nine-page proposal to the senate states  “…as important as the presence of an independent student-run newspaper is on campus, Brandeis already has one in existence: The Justice.” In his proposal Dinlenc claims that The Hoot “…blatantly violates the Duality of Purpose amendment.”

The amendment in question, found in the bylaws in Article VIII Section 2, clause C, states: “In order to be eligible for accreditation, a prospective club must…. Not duplicate the purpose or goals of an existing club. If the prospective club’s operations, impact, and student appeal would substantively be the same as that of an existing club, then it should not be accredited. A group has duality of purpose if it has duality of operations, impact, and appeal. Collectively, this standard is called Duality of Purpose.”

Dinlenc, in his capacity as Senate Co-Chair of the Sustainability Committee (SenSus), met separately with editorial staff from both newspapers in mid-March to discuss sustainability. Dinlenc was a staff writer for the Justice’s arts section but denies this being a factor in his proposal, stating at the senate meeting, “I criticize both equally.” Dinlenc resigned from the Justice on April 6, after pressure from the Justice editorial staff, according to the letter from the editor published on April 7 by the Justice.

When Dinlenc met with Sarah Terrazano ’19, Editor-in-Chief of The Hoot, to discuss sustainability, Terrazano said that the meeting “seemed more like a gathering of information for sustainability purposes.” According to Terrazano, the duality of purpose bylaw was never discussed. Dinlenc expressed interest in merging the two newspapers. In an interview with The Hoot, Terrazano said, “I told him I couldn’t make the decision by myself and needed to talk to the rest of the editorial board but told him that a merger was unlikely.”

Dinlenc sent out a survey in a Facebook post regarding the interest in and sustainability of having two student newspapers on campus last Wednesday. A couple of hours later, Dinlenc added a different version of the post, removing any mention of the Senate Sustainability Committee, also known as SenSus, of which he is the senate co-chair.

But in the senate meeting on Sunday, Dinlenc refers to this survey, although the word “sustainability” only appears once in his proposal. In an email interview with The Hoot last week, Dinlenc wrote that the point of the survey was to “…gather the opinions of the student body regarding the presence of 2 campus newspapers and whether or not they see it as an issue from a sustainability standpoint.” In his proposal, Dinlenc admitted that “…the survey has accrued only 72 responses” but only “… 51 unbiased opinions out of 3,639 undergraduates.”

Dinlenc plans to remove biased responses from students who have written for either The Hoot or the Justice. Dinlenc continued that he would share the results with the senate if the survey reached the threshold of five percent (182 unbiased students). As of April 11, the survey had only received 98 total votes and 77 unbiased.

In the senate meeting introducing his proposal, Dinlenc said the issue of The Hoot was “Ultimately…a bylaws issue and an environment issue, and it’s a redundancy that we do not need.”

“Brandeis is the only, only university in the country that produces two papers on campus,” Dinlenc stated. He added that “…there is little to no ideological issue between the two [The Hoot and the Justice.]”

In an interview with The Hoot, Celia Young ’21, news editor of The Hoot refuted both of these claims. “We are not the only small school with two newspapers. Oberlin comes to mind.” And when asked about the differences between the two papers, Young said that she considered The Hoot to be “more investigative.”

“We focus more on the Brandeis community because the Justice also focuses on the Waltham community and the Bentley community,” Young told the senators at the meeting on Sunday.

Senator for Off Campus Students Jacob Diaz ’20 also took issue with Dinlenc’s claims that having two on-campus newspapers was outside the norm. “We are Brandeis; we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to other universities,” said Diaz.

In the introduction of his proposal at the senate meeting, Dinlenc also claimed that The Hoot and the Justice’s constitutions were too similar. “Their ethics policy is pretty much copy paste,” said Dinlenc. He also claimed that “there is no barrier in transition from working in one paper and also working in another, other than the rivalry that is already present.”

Young, at the senate meeting, refuted both these claims. “There is a barrier of transition in the Justice according to Article 2 Section 4 of the Justice constitution: No staff member can write for a competing publication. That means that Justice writers are not allowed to write for The Hoot,” said Young. She also added, “The Justice and The Hoot are both newspapers; we’re obviously going to have similar codes of ethics.”

Young also disagreed with Dinlenc’s main two arguments for de-chartering The Hoot. Regarding duality of purpose, Young stated that “..the argument has been brought up before, but generations of Union members have held up The Hoot even though this bylaw does exist.” She added, “I think it doesn’t apply to use because The Hoot and the Justice are very different. We cover different things.”

Young cited research that she and Sabrina Chow ’21, opinions editor of The Hoot, conducted where they compared articles from The Hoot and the Justice from this spring semester. According to Young, she and Chow found that “at least double the content is different,” and “…usually it’s more than double.”

Young also lamented the “poor timing” of the proposal, a sentiment Vice President of the Student Union Aaron Finkel ’19 seemed to share when interviewed by The Hoot. “Usually big proposals get introduced in one meeting, deliberated in the next and amended if necessary and voted on in the next,” said Finkel. He cited the club consultant proposal as an example.

“The proposal [from Dinlenc] was officially brought forward within a day while the club consultant proposal was brought up in several meetings, and there were several conversations with clubs before that,” said Finkel.

He expressed his regret for the lack of further debate. “We need to give it a lot more time.” Finkel added that he “would encourage everyone over the next couple of days, if they have opinions, to make their voice heard and talk to their senators.”

In response to the proposal, The Hoot editorial board penned a petition, asking students, clubs, and “non-Brandeis affiliated individuals” to show their support. The Hoot also circulated a letter, written by alum David Pepose ’08, asking alumni for support.

The letter in the petition states, “The Hoot is more than just a newspaper to us; it is our livelihood, our pride and joy and a family of dozens—if not hundreds—of current students and alumni.” They ask readers to “stand in solidarity with [them] and support that The Hoot should not be de-chartered as a club on campus.”

As of late Thursday afternoon, the petition has been signed by 515 current students and recent alumni, 65 campus clubs and has garnered support from non-Brandeis affiliated clubs and individuals. The alumni letter of support has 60 signatures from Hoot alumni and 93 general Brandeis alumni.

When asked about the petition and her experience, Young said, “This has shown me that The Hoot is a family. It’s not just a newspaper, or a club or something people forget after they graduate—it’s a family that is there for you for life.”

Dinlenc declined an in-person interview, instead referring The Hoot to his proposal.

The senate will no longer vote on the proposal to de-charter The Hoot, because as of 11:39 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, the de-charter proposal was rescinded by Dinlenc.

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