The "So-Called" Enlightened Franciscan Tradition Of Siena College

by David R. Parvo

Siena College's radio station, WVCR, which several months ago banned heavy metal music due to it being inconsistent with the school's Franciscan tradition, has once again restricted freedom of expression. WVCR was airing live shout-outs, where listeners call in and dedicate songs or send messages to friends, during its urban music programs. According to Albany City Police Lt. Christian D'Alessandro, who initiated the action, teens were using the free airtime to tout gangs or "near-gangs" (whatever that means), which leads him to believe that shout-outs and urban music programs "glorify and propagates gang activity." The stations new policy is to screen the shout-outs by taping and reviewing them before airing them. According to Bill Sherman, director of campus programs, "Anything that contains questionable phrases isn't played." This is a very ambiguous and startling phrase from an official of an institute of higher learning and should disturb anyone who believes in the First Amendment and freedom of expression.

By censoring speech and music over the air waves, Siena College is not exactly following its own mission statement. Siena College purports to provide its students opportunities to develop creative thinking and to teach them to make reasoned and informed judgements. How can they say they promote creative thinking and informed judgments while restricting freedom of expression and making irrational judgements? It is hypocrisy through and through. No amount of social engineering through censorship will ever create a safer campus or a kindler and gentler society. Officials of an institute of higher learning kowtowing to outside entities and contributing to the restriction of free-speech is appalling. Authority figures continually argue that speech must be controlled because unrestricted expression causes anti-social behavior. Censorship does NOT solve social problems as it is not an acceptable solution or action by anyone. I guess freedom of expression is not consistent with the so-called "enlightened" Franciscan tradition of Siena College.

To protest this blatant violation of the First Amendment, please contact those involved: Lt. Christian D'Alessandro
c/o Albany Police Dept.
Public Safety Building
Morton Ave & Broad St.
Albany, NY 12202
Telephone: 518-462-8000

Bill Sherman
c/o Foy Campus Center
Suite 203
Loudenville, NY 12211
Telephone:518-783-2330
Fax: 518-786-5053
E-mail: bsherman@siena.edu

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