Chastisements

Polemicist hereby chastises...

"If, when a man has fallen into habits of idleness, of daydreaming, and of sloth, putting off his most important duties continually til the morrow, another man were to awaken him one fine morning with the heavy blows of a whip, and were to whip him unmercifully, until he who was unable to work for pleasure now worked for fear - would not that man, the chastiser, indeed be his benefactor and truest friend?"

-Charles Baudelaire
 Intimate Journals

 

September 1990; page 2; Volume 2, No. 1
Polemicist

Bill Cunningham
UT President, Barton Creek developer

For those of you not here this summer, UT president Bill Cunningham operates as an employee of two multinational corporations poised to destroy Barton Creek and Barton Springs, the city's favorite swimming hole and the water supply for 30,000 people. Cunningham sits on the board of directors of the landowner, Freeport McMoRan, for which he was paid at least $50,000 last year. He also serves as a paid member of the "Policy Committee" of the Barton Creek Country Club, owned by ClubCorp, the company managing the development.

Both Robert Dedman, CEO of ClubCorp and Franklin Federal Bancorp, and "Jim Bob" Moffett, the CEO of Freeport, are major UT donors and sit on the UT Development Board, an exclusive group of the largest donors to the University. Cunningham's wife, Isabella, also sits on the board of Franklin Federal, for which she receives $700 per board meeting.

On June 7 over 900 people signed up to speak at a City Council hearing over the planned development. The vast majority spoke against the project, and the meeting lasted until 6 a.m. the following morning, when it ended with an uninanimous vote against the development. Despite severe public criticism before the Council vote, Cunningham personally lobbied at least one City Council member, Robert Barnstone, and refuses to publicly distance himself from his corporate benefactors. In fact, Cunningham has yet to make a public statement concerning his relationship to the two companies at all, despite months of publicity and criticism in the local and state-wide press.

Cunningham's silence may serve the interests of his corporate sponsors, who want to quell publicity on the issues. But his silence violates the right of the university community to hear its president explain his involvement in this lurid affair.

University Review Magazine,
Institute for Educational Affairs

In the first issue of this right-wing paper (which is a recycled version of the old Texas Review), contributor Matt Foster lambasts Tejas magazine for accepting "handouts" in order to publish. "The free and honest exchange," he sneers, "is an absolute joke if the left is subsidized (Them? Handouts? Naah.)" In making that statement, Foster is either displaying base hypocrisy or plain ignorance. University Review is part of the "Collegiate Network" of the Institute for Educational Affairs, a right-wing organization that funds some 58 conservative college papers and magazines, most notoriously the Dartmouth Review.

A Polemicist editor called IEA and spoke to the director of the Collegiate Network, Bob Lukefacs. The editor told Lukefacs that he ran an independent monthly trying to provide an alternative to the liberal daily. Lukefacs explained that most of the papers the IEA supports receive $1,500 grants per semester, and cited the Review as a member of the Network. (He agreed with his new interviewer that the old Review had declined in quality over the past few years, but hoped that the new crowd might be better.) IEA papers also participate in an ad consortium, where the national organization sells advertising - say to Domino's Pizza or to Coors Beer - and the student papers run the ads to collect the money.

The IEA nationally is also cooperating with the National Association of Scholars - whose local chapter took out a full-page ad in the new Review - to prepare a guide to warn parents which colleges are "politicized" or overrun with "oppression studies" (see story page 6.) Right-wing psychology professor and Texas Association of Scholars President Joe Horn serves as faculty advisor to the Review, and wrote an article referencing recent conservativee articles opposing affirmative action. That student alternative papers must rely so heavily on institutional subsidies and faculty handholding reveals much about the paper's substance.

Foster wants the University to "cut all funds to anything political, and let the market decide what is a valid opinion." Before the Review starts complaining about subsidizing "the left," it should denounce any subsidies it gains from the IEA and prove itself in the "market." Polemicist has generated eight magazines and six pamphlets in the past year, raising and spending about $5,000 for printing and research - most of our funds came from $5 and $20 donations from readers. Neither the University nor some right-wing foundation had to "subsidize" us to stay afloat.

Foster claims the market "has to be nursed by University cash for the radicals to survive." We challenge the Review to live up to Foster's tough words and publicly abandon its IEA sponsorship.

Texas Student Publications
Board of Directors

When students in 1987 formed KTSB, UT's so-called "student radio" station, they agree to place it under the control of Texas Student Publications. Student radio at UT may never recover from that awful decision. TSP has taken it upon itself to hire a "broadcast supervisor" to monitor and control the students who purportedly run the station. By all reports, the supervisor, Andrea Morrow, has harassed students DJs for using their airtime to make political statements or play music not on the KTSB playlist. She even fired one disc-jockey for playing the lesbian band Two Nice Girls' "I spent my last ten dollars on birth control and beer," a local standard. Under pressure from staff protest, she hired him back two weeks later.

According to the proposed 1990-91 KTSB budget, TSP will pay her a total of $28,000 next year in salary and benefits for her services - 47 percent of KTSB's $60,100 operating budget. Student fees comprise $50,000 of that total. Additionally, much of the approximately $13,000 the budget lists as excess money goes to paying TSP head Dick Lytle's salary, according to KTSB sources. By comparison, all student wages combined total $9,432. And the budget only allots $900 for records. TSP priorities obviously lie in controlling the students, not in giving them an autonomous forum.

For all its problems the past few years, The Texan has never had to operate so directly under the iron jackboot of TSP hegemony. We fear that TSP may have designs on creating another KUT - a "UT" radio station that operates with no student control or input. KTSB is currently competing in an application process for Austin's last FM radio frequency with a group that wants to form a co-operative community station. If the FCC grants KTSB the frequency, the UT System Board of Regents will control the license.

That odious road must go untraveled. Instead, students interested should bolt KTSB and join up with Jim Ellinger, the leader in the co-op radio movement who wants to include UT students in his format.

Mel Hazelwood, Pat Ohlendorf
UT Flunkies

"Unfortunately people are involved in a battle with the UT Austin administration ... I really don't want to get into a little UT-Austin battle over things." Thus declared Mel Hazelwood in the August 29 Daily Texan as he squarely injected himself into the UT administration's attack on students' access to information under the Texas Open Records Act. Under the previous policy, UT didn't charge for copying expenses. Hazelwood announced on August 22 that the UT System would begin charging for labor time for processing Open Records requests from student journalists and researchers.

Pat Ohlendorf didn't even have the courtesy to notify students of the policy change and simply began sending bills for labor charges. The first letter student researchers received (on August 28) was dated August 23, the day after Hazelwood's decision. Ohlendorf asked for a $144 "bond" before The Howlers, a graduate student activist/research group, would be allowed to review a routine Open Records request.

Tellingly, the first request for which UT Austin charged for labor was for correspondence between Bill Cunningham and Jim Bob Moffett, Chair and CEO of Freeport McMoRan (see previous Chastisement). Student researchers have devilled in Cunningham all summer with revelations of his ties to Freeport and Freeport's dealings in Austin, New Orleans and Indonesia (see page 10).

Also, we believe that our series of articles concerning E 306 and NAS (see page four) stands as the strongest argument we could make for maintaining reasonable access to public documents. Despite the fact that faculty and staff spent hour preparing those requests, no labor charge was levied for any of the dozens of documents we received. The results speak for themselves.

It's shameful that our administration can use their institutional clout to harass student journalists they don't agree with.