The banning of Stephen’s Weekly, St. Stephen’s college’s first ever online news magazine, by principal Valson Thampu has stirred up a storm. Appalled by Thampu’s decision, the students and faculty members say the move is tyrannical and regressive.
Inspired by the Brown University Daily Herald, Stephen’s Weekly was to be an online news portal with extensive reportage on college news and events.
The first issue went live on the internet on March 7, and was banned by Thampu just five days later. The reason cited by the principal for the ban was “that students did not follow the due procedure”.
When asked for details, Thampu told HT “to speak to the students”.
Devansh Mehta, editor and founding member of the web magazine, which got over 2,000 page views in the five days it existed, said, “The ban has tarnished the liberal image of our college. And how can a principal who has absolutely no role in setting up the online weekly sabotage our work? Despite being a self-appointed ‘staff adviser’ he did not even have the courtesy to give us money for the domain. Also, the website was bought with money collected by the students.”
The website was taken down on the 12 March and the domain name now leads to a dead link.
“To ban an online weekly in a liberal arts college is draconian. Students should be encouraged to think independently and not just comply with the authorities’ whims,” a senior professor said on condition of anonymity.
Fear rules the minds of students too, most preferring not to say anything on the issue. Abek Thayil, a third year student of Physics (Honors), told Hindustan Times, “No one ever tried to capture what goes on in the campus on a daily basis. It’s very sad that an all-student initiative is being butchered like this.”