by The Nobleman Editorial Board, March, 2022
One of Staff Writer Chris Tillen’s (Class II) articles for this release investigated a subject matter involving the Nobles community, namely members of Class I. Tillen conducted interviews and asked questions ranging from topics of ethnicity to student popularity to investigate the alleged racial divisions and supposed fracturing of the current senior class that may have been implicated in this matter. Unfortunately, the article and all of its thought-provoking possibilities were censored by the Nobles Administration.
As a private institution’s publication, The Nobleman does not technically have the same protections of free press detailed in the First Amendment as a public school’s paper might. Therefore, when it comes to limiting a publication’s free speech, Nobles does have the right to do so… but is it right?
The Nobleman editorial board (named at the end of this editorial), along with The Nobleman Faculty Advisors Heidi Charles and Michael Polebaum, met with an administrator during O-block on Thursday, February 17. The outcome of this conversation shaped the following administrative stance: The Nobleman may not publish Tillen’s article. Furthermore, a so-called precedent was set by the Administration: The Nobleman may not publish articles explicitly regarding decisions or actions taken by any community members at an individual or group capacity. It is unclear whether this precedent includes decisions taken by the Administration.
Firstly, one might wonder how this precedent applies to Tillen’s article. The answer is simple: there were actions taken by community members which led to the subject matter at hand, and the Administration’s argument would seem that, for this reason, the article may not be published.
Let’s be clear. Tillen’s article was a presentation of fact intended to clear up the matter’s widespread misinformation. Thus, no individual’s decision or action was singled out by any argument or opinion, especially considering the fact that students most closely involved in the matter were offered interviews.
Moreover, this precedent set by the Administration is incredibly dangerous. How can our community members, our leaders, or our mentors be held accountable if The Nobleman cannot report on their actions? What does a newspaper do if not report actions? If the Administration is directly restricting one of the only means of mass-distribution that might spark compelling thoughts and debates, then how will it itself be held accountable? If the Administration wants The Nobleman to shy away from inspiring topics in favor of solely writing satires and spreads, then they are advocating for the paper to be stripped of any legitimacy.
We do not believe that the Administration truly wants this. In fact, Head of School Cathy Hall, Ph.D., contacted our faculty advisors after the release of Vol. 111, No. 4 in early February to suggest meetings between The Nobleman staff and administrators so that the latter might provide news tips or other forms of aid. However, the truth of the matter is that the editorial board advocated for the publication of an important topic of which all editors—and seniors—have felt the detrimental effects, yet were effectively steamrolled for reasons which amounted to nothing more than administrators “feeling” that the resulting consequences may potentially affect the actors involved.
Revisiting the precedent regarding one’s actions, the school was heavily involved in the matter which Tillen’s article addressed—in other words, they took direct actions to affect the decisions of community members. For this reason, not only does the matter involve students, it directly involves the school itself. But the Administration, by its new precedent, claims that The Nobleman cannot discuss a decision made or action taken by particular community members, thereby making themselves, among others, exempt from accountability.
We wish that we could delve into the pain that the matter caused for current seniors. We wish that we could answer the questions of, “How were fragmentations caused? How were racial divisions allegedly furthered? What of this matter is true and what is false?” We wish that we could provide the facts of the case. We wish that we could share with you the interviews that Tillen conducted. But, as the Administration’s stance stands, we will never be able to.
When events are not discussed, they are forgotten. And when they are forgotten, they are bound to be repeated. And when they are repeated, the cycle of pain, of rumor, and of misconception inevitably begins anew. Do not be fooled; the Administration will not hesitate to strip away freedom of speech and censor controversial topics if it means saving face. We as students are not being protected; we are being silenced. Not for our own benefit, but for the Administration’s. The Administration says that it cares about expression. About race. About community. About voices. It’s time that administrators actually show it, because the preaching has gone far enough.
Ryan Sanghavi, Editor-in-Chief
Daniel Wang, Managing Editor
Jessica Zhang, Managing Editor
Isabela Fitzgerald, Video Editor
Ama Ndukwe, Photo Editor
For further reading, see:
Racial “Self Segregation” in: “Self Segregation or Self Preservation?” Chris Tillen. The Nobleman Vol. 111, No. 2.
Freedom of Speech at Nobles in: “Is Nobles a Bastion of Free Speech or an Orwellian Nightmare?” Zac Gordon. The Nobleman Vol. 111, No. 6.*