On the main quad of Colby College, our sister institution in Waterville, Maine, stands a handsome brick building known as Lovejoy Hall. It is named after Elijah Parish Lovejoy, Colby class of 1826, who is remembered as the “first American martyr to the freedom of the press.”
A native of Maine, he moved to Missouri in the early 1830s to launch a religious newspaper. Over the next several years, he came to advocate against slavery, and was eventually driven from Missouri across the Mississippi river to Illinois, a “free” state where he expected to be able to continue to publish without fear. After he published an anti-slavery editorial in 1837, his printing press was destroyed by others who disagreed. He twice replaced the press, but later that year a mob set fire to his building, and Lovejoy was shot and killed as he attempted to extinguish it.
To this day, Colby College grants an award in Lovejoy’s name to honor a member of the newspaper profession who continues his heritage of fearlessness and freedom.
It would appear that these values are not shared by the WSA.
While observing events from afar, I am not able to verify the extent to which recent threats to “boycott” or to destroy printed copies of our newspaper were in fact carried out. Nevertheless, it is very clear that the recent vote of the WSA cannot but be interpreted as a threat to diminish the scope of the paper for having provided, appropriately, a forum for a somewhat unpopular view by a member of the student body.
The WSA had an opportunity to stand for the core values of freedom of expression and freedom of the press. It appears they chose to stand instead for something else.
Brodie is a member of the Class of 1974.