Shoving us off the public square

The Daily Texan tried to not take personally the College of Communication’s banning of our newsstands from the new Belo Center’s front lawn. The word “ban” is hotly contested — in an email to The Texan, College of Communication dean Roderick Hart wrote “For the record, there was never an intention to ‘ban’ the boxes.”

But inarguably, our iconic, orange Texan newsstands were not, and are still not allowed on the Belo Center’s plaza. Initially, the College of Communication’s administrators justified their decision to keep the newsstand at bay by claiming they attract trash. Then, yesterday, after the Texan published a story about the banning, the College of Communication revised the original policy. The college’s administrators still won’t allow our newsstands on their side of the street. Instead, the Belo Center’s architect is building a specially-designed box from which our readers may pick up the most recent issue.

The episode left us equal parts outraged and amused. In the best light, the College of Communication, where the School of Journalism resides, perhaps inadvertently overlooked the importance of making the more than 100-year-old, official college daily of The University of Texas at Austin readily available at every street corner on campus.

The Daily Texan survives as a vibrant print product because it meets people where they are. Students pick up the Texan to read in passing periods, at dining hall breakfast tables or on bus rides home. Daredevils read it as they walk to class. In an age when access to unlimited information opens to college students the outside world but isolates them from one another, The Daily Texan provides a selection of stories and information, a browsing experience,that connects a football player to a physics graduate student. The Texan and its manner of circulation on campus reflect the reality that we all live, work, eat and learn in the same space.

No question, we agree with and commend any efforts to discourage unsightly trash-accumulation. And we even acknowledge that printed editions will face obsolescence in our future, and be replaced by online ones, although we still contend the gluttonous online reading experience can exhaust a person. And there is a special pleasure in a Sudoku puzzle completed with a pencil over a sandwich and coffee, while sitting in your favorite spot on the mall.

Overall, we think that our print edition and our newsstands have a few more good days left in them and would appreciate if the College of Communication didn’t distinguish itself as among the first to shove us off the public square.