Article causes dispute over TCNJ Magazine’s content

An article appearing in the summer 2003 issue of TCNJ Magazine, which is produced by the office of Alumni Affairs at the College, has raised the eyebrows of some alumni, according to editor Bruce VanDusen.

The article, entitled “The Jeremiads of John Ashcroft,” by Gary Woodward, professor of communication studies, was first delivered as a longer academic paper to a conference of the Eastern Communications Association in Washington D.C.

Later, VanDusen contacted Woodward and asked him to shorten the paper and tailor it for an alumni audience.

The article criticizes Ashcroft and the value system that drives his policy decisions.

“In significant ways, Ashcroft reveals himself to be a throwback to an earlier era of inner-directed men and anti-modernists,” Woodward wrote in the article. “He celebrates the orthodoxies of his faith for what he wishes them to be: timeless virtues that must triumph against the modernist preference for inclusion and accommodation.”

“The article has, apparently, been of interest to a large number of people,” VanDusen said.

“It’s very clear (that) it touched a lot of nerves,” he added, as both VanDusen and the office of Alumni Affairs have received several letters and phone calls.

“I’m in possession of at least one letter from a person who was unhappy with the article,” Matt Manfra, director of alumni affairs, said.

“People seem to have been unsure why an article like this would appear in a college magazine,” he added.

However, both Manfra and VanDusen were quick to defend the article’s publication.

“We need to show folks what’s going on in the world,” Manfra said.

“There should be a place in the magazine for opinions to be heard, but it needs to be shown as an opinion, like a disclaimer that these views do not necessarily represent the views of the College and its administration,” he added.

According to VanDusen, all of the magazine’s articles are designed to show the publication is concerned with issues of public interest.

VanDunsen added that TCNJ Magazine aims to do this in order to keep with the mission of the College.

“It’s a sign of maturity of the institution and of the magazine to run pieces that are political assessments,” Woodward said.

According to VanDunsen, TCNJ Magazine hopes to initiate campuswide debate about serious issues of the day.

VanDunsen added that the College’s publication provides a medium to do just this.

“If some alumni feel it inappropriate for their magazine to deal with such real life and genuine things, then I’m sorry about that,” VanDunsen said.

“I am personally disappointed there are not more of these types of discussions going on on our campus,” VanDusen added.

“A lot of alumni magazines run stories that are very middle-of-the-road so as not to offend anyone,” Woodward said. “Surely it’s appropriate for a school to look at the important issues of the day.”

“I don’t even think the article was that controversial,” Manfra said. “But we’re in the academic world, so we’re used to this kind of thing. Construction update articles always get a big thumbs-up, though.”