Restricted Assistants at Piedmont College

By TYLER DALE

Opinions Editor

Being the Navigator’s Opinions editor has been an absolute pleasure thus far. I am honored to be the representative voice of the student body and to make sure that Piedmont’s students, the reason this establishment exists, are being heard. Naturally, as Opinions Editor, I am a huge advocate of free speech. Unfortunately though, it has come to my attention that not everyone shares my sentiments.

While trying to find writers for my first Opinions page, I discovered that resident assistants (RAs) are forbidden from writing for me. Not only that, but they are not allowed to write for news as well. In fact, an RA was told that all of her articles would have to be screened before they were allowed to be published. The resident life administration has censored their very own employees, the people they have chosen to represent our school. And that’s very disturbing.

The reason I am so concerned is because of how sudden this censorship came upon this year’s resident life staff. RAs have never dealt with this sort of oppression in the past. Just last year Nic Sridej was the RA of Ipswich as well as Editor-In-Chief of The Navigator. He wrote several editorials for the Opinions page and never suffered any consequences for it. He wasn’t the only one, though. In The Navigator’s final issue last year, Tamara Rainwater, another RA, also provided her opinion.

This policy is very new. And that troubles me. Because this has never been an issue before, it makes me wonder: what has the administration done that they are trying to cover up? They hand-picked these students to represent Piedmont. They paid half of their room and board. They gave them great power and great responsibilities. They gave them a key that will unlock any room on campus. Why are they so afraid of their opinion?

This leads me to believe that someone in charge of res life has done something that they don’t want to leak out, and they have muzzled their RAs to prevent anyone from even hinting at the truth. It’s the only reason they would prevent their staff from speaking, after they have already trusted them with so much. Typically, one would expect the RAs to have very positive opinions as far as Piedmont is concerned, so someone must have given them a reason to dislike Piedmont’s res life procedures, and now they’re covering their tracks by censoring their staff members.

Furthermore, this makes me wonder if someone in charge of resident life has an issue with me personally. Under the former Opinions editor, this was never an issue. Am I too controversial? Do I ask too many difficult questions? Do I hold Piedmont to a higher standard than some people plan to live up to? I don’t know. But if someone is afraid of what I have to say, or what I encourage their staff members to say, then I suppose I’m doing my job as the representative voice of Piedmont’s student body.

I doubt anyone has a problem with me, though. I like to believe that I am making Piedmont a better place. I think I am. I love Piedmont. I love the people here, I love the atmosphere, I love everything about where I go to school. But the fact that resident assistants have been forbidden from writing for me is very troubling. I like to think that Piedmont listens. That they hear the concerns of their students and try to address them. But if their own hand-picked employees have been forced to remain silent, something is up. And I’m willing to bet it will come to affect all of us. If the powers that be in res life don’t trust their own RA’s to have free speech, how do they feel about the rest of us? I may be overreacting. I hope I am. But I’m very worried, and you should be too.