JACKSON — The state newspaper association is condemning a plan that will eliminate journalism courses at Delta State University and shutter the school’s 83-year-old student newspaper print product.
In a cover letter to the Mississippi Press Association says it sent to DSU President William LaForge dated April 13, MPA President Joel McNeece said the cuts are a “terrible and disheartening precedent” to set for the school.
“Aside from depriving students, faculty and alumni with an important publication to record the history and activities of your school, the discontinuation of The Delta Statement, an 83-year-old newspaper, in the collective opinion of this Board fundamentally inhibits First Amendment rights of everyone associated with your fine institution,” wrote McNeece, publisher of The Calhoun County Journal in Bruce.
Unfortunately, according to LaForge, he has not “received any letter from MPA.”
Also, while it is true Delta State is eliminating the print product of The Delta Statement, the publication will still be offered online, a decision approved unanimously by the DSU cabinet last fall on the recommendation of the student government president.
MPA Executive Director Layne Bruce said the cutbacks and no print edition of The Delta Statement will inhibit free speech on the campus and eliminate an important medium for communication between students, faculty and alumni.
“There is no doubt that tough choices must be made in an era of tighter budgets,” said Bruce. “But the line item of printing the student newspaper is a drop in the bucket, and, frankly, there are options available through organizations such as ours that could help the publication build a stable financial foundation for the years ahead.”
Members of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees are expected to meet this week on proposed budget cuts at Delta State.
However, it has been known for many years, that the DSU journalism program has been on the “watch” list by the IHL board due to low student enrollment numbers. It is one of five programs that have been eliminated as a cost-saving measure because the programs are undersubscribed by students.
— from staff reports and MPA press release