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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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Rachel PottDecember 4, 2023

Reed recommendation as adviser resubmitted

English Department Executive Committee recommends Cheryl Reed to dean 

The English department’s eight-member faculty executive board voted on Tuesday, April 14 to submit Cheryl Reed as journalistic adviser to The North Wind.

In a letter to Michael Broadway, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the chair of the English Department Executive Committee (EDEC), Rob Whalen, requested Dean Broadway “reconsider [his] decision regarding the department’s recommendation for staffing the faculty advisory to the [North Wind].”

Reed was ousted as journalistic adviser for the student newspaper by The North Wind Board of Directors in a 5-3 vote, Friday, April 3.

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Reed, a voting member of the board abstained. The removal would take effect at the end of this semester. According to The North Wind board’s bylaws, “The Journalistic Advisor shall be selected annually by the English faculty and department head from faculty members.”

After Reed was voted out, The North Wind board requested a replacement from the English department. Broadway initially recommended Professor Jim McCommons, an ex-adviser to the paper. Dean Broadway, in serving as interim English department head, could decline the recommendation of Reed by the EDEC.

“We wonder, however,” Whalen wrote, “whether doing so reflects the true will of the department. As [Reed’s] colleagues, and the deliberative body who recommended her for hire, we feel it is our duty to reiterate our original recommendation.”

Reed was hired as an assistant professor in fall 2014. She was also recommended to be the adviser for The North Wind.

“That you [Broadway] and we [the English Department Executive Committee] would be doing this a second time only reinforces our belief that she is highly suited to the position,” Whalen wrote, “and that its duties are squarely among those we expressly hired her to perform.”

According to Whalen, the decision from the English department is not an indication of its position on the issues surrounding the paper

“In making this request,” Whalen wrote, “we take no ideological position on the editorial or legal controversies surrounding The North Wind, nor do we presume to exercise authority over The North Wind’s internal policies and decisions. We merely assert our right as faculty to advance staffing recommendations pertaining to assignments explicitly within our purview, and which are based on our informed judgment and expertise.”

On Wednesday, April 15, a day after the letter was sent to Broadway, Whalen sent an email to the members of the EDEC as a faculty member. In his email, Whalen wished to “clarify that my role in composing and sending the letter is strictly in my capacity as chair of the EDEC.”

He raised concerns that the EDEC’s involvement in the controversy with the paper and its board could be seen as an “attempt to violate the board’s autonomy, thereby embroiling the department in a controversy on which I’d prefer we take no public stand.” Whalen also expressed his concern that the letter to Broadway may vilify the students on the board who voted against Reed on April 3.

“While I remain agnostic as to the wisdom of their decision,” Whalen wrote, “I believe that they deserve to be taken at their word.”

In a reply to that email, Assoc. Professor Lisa Eckert, a member of the EDEC, echoes the concern brought up by Whalen.

“We have supported our colleague, Cheryl Reed, throughout this controversy,” Eckert wrote, “we [must] remember that the four board members who wrote this statement are NMU students who also deserve to be valued for the difficult work that they do— and that they do so as they are approaching their own final exams and project due dates. I surely hope the EDEC reiteration of support is not used to discredit them.”

Other members of the EDEC stand in full support of Reed and the recommendation made by the English board.

“I enjoy reading good journalistic writing and since August 2014 I’ve noticed a significant improvement in this,” English Professor Mark Smith wrote in an email.

“Most issues of The North Wind published before then did not, in my judgment, deal with significant and yes, sometimes, controversial campus issues. I believe Professor Cheryl Reed is at least partly responsible for these improvements and so I support her reappointment as The North Wind Journalistic Adviser.”

The support for Reed from the English department is only a small part of a national trend.

The Society for Professional Journalists issued a statement saying The North Wind board “violated First Amendment principles,” and that the society “stands ready to assist The North Wind in retaining Reed as its adviser and considering [Michael] Williams as editor, legally and otherwise.”

The Student Press Law Center and the College Media Association as well as the Associated Collegiate Press have all issued statements of support.

Along with professional organizations, student newspapers across the country have raised their voices in solidarity.

Central Michigan University’s Central Michigan Life, Oklahoma University’s The Oklahoma Daily and Miami University’s The Miami Student have all written editorials in support of The North Wind.

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