Student Protest in the Name of Media Bias

According to an article in the New York Times, students at Ithaca College protested an appearance and donation made by Robert Iger, the CEO of Disney.

According to John Haurin, a protest organizer and a junior at the school, roughly 30 students posted fliers around campus and distributed pamphlets at Mr. Iger’s lecture, raising questions about Disney’s labor practices and environmental record, and revisiting allegations of media bias, particularly in reference to “The Path to 9/11,” a docudrama that came under attack when it was broadcast in September on ABC, a Disney property.

The college responded that any contribution from Iger did not influence the school's curriculum and clarified that the donation was a personal, not a corporate, one.

The students' protests about affiliation with Iger, who is an alumnus, were partially based out of concern for maintaining impartiality in the journalism program.

Mr. Haurin said that accepting Disney money would send the wrong message about the importance of objectivity to the school’s journalism and communications students. “Our basic complete, ultimate goal is to get people to question where this money is coming from,” he said.

Although the students were appeased when they learned that the contribution was a personal one and was not representative of Disney, the protest incites the question of universities' funding from corporations. I attended a university that received substantial funding from Weyerhaeuser. The smell of pulp mills incited the unfortunate moniker, "The Tacoma Aroma". A dichotomy existed between the company that funded many of the school's resources and the environmentally active hippie kids that attended. Many a project from my freshman speech class centered on the topic of deforestation.

Although the students at Ithaca College were perhaps premature and misinformed in their protest, the basic idea of their cause is commendable. In a university setting, where young journalism students are presumably being taught impartiality and social consciousness, it seems pertinent to explore any influences that may arise from corporate funding of the school.

Cynthia Allen @ October 19, 2006 - 9:24am

We had a similar situation at my college that had a smoking lounge inside one of the buildings that was "sponsored" by Phlip Morris. I believe it has been shut down since I left, but you have to wonder how much influence, and how much money they gave, to allow smoking inside of a building on a public university.

Michael Luke @ October 19, 2006 - 10:37pm

I'd suggest you look into the history of Brown University.

Brown struggles with trying to overcome a history financed on the backs of slaves. In fact, The Times ran piece a regarding this very issue. Depending who you ask, rather than shirk from their dark past, it seems that Brown is trying to confront it.

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