Collegian editor may lose stipend over job at Blade

By Jack Baessler and Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writers

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A call for the resignation of the chairman of the University of Toledo board of trustees by the student newspaper this week has been followed by a demand in writing that the editor of the newspaper quit his part-time job at The Blade or lose a $10,000 annual university stipend.

On Monday morning an editorial in The Collegian said that Ronald Langenderfer, board chairman, should step down because of remarks he made at a board meeting last week in which he wanted to fire employees who were spreading false rumors about the university.

By 3:30 p.m., Keith Tarjanyi, editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, was in the office of Edward Willis, dean of students.

According to Mr. Tarjanyi, 22, a senior who has held the editorship since the spring of 1998, Mr. Willis informed him it was against university policy for him to have an outside job while being editor.

He was told by the dean that if he did not quit his job at The Blade, the university would withdraw the $10,000 it provides him for being editor-in-chief of The Collegian. That pays for his tuition and books.

That was confirmed in a letter yesterday from Mr. Willis to Mr. Tarjanyi. The letter called on the editor to provide Mr. Willis with written verification of the termination of his part-time, off-campus employment by 5 p.m. Friday.

Mr. Tarjanyi, who has been a part-time, temporary news assistant at The Blade since Jan. 10, performing clerical duties in the newsroom, said he expects to resist the dean’s demand.

“I am not sure what I am going to do,” he said. “I have always been one to stand up to things that are wrong. More than likely I am going to stand up for what I believe on this issue.”

He said he does not think the editorial by itself was what triggered enforcement of the policy.

“This, I think, has been well in the pipeline since the presidential search in the fall of 1998,” he said.

The Collegian has been critical of university decision-making in recent years, particularly of university President Vik Kapoor even before he took office.

In the fall of 1998, The Collegian said the trustees should scrap its list of finalists for president of the university and find applicants who showed better promise of leading the university.

While aware of the policy for some time, Mr. Tarjanyi has not hidden his outside work from college officials, he said. Until now, he has had assurances from some college officials that his outside work wasn’t a problem, he said.

He worked for the Fostoria Review-Times last summer and part of the fall.

“If I were working at Burger King … this wouldn’t be an issue,” Mr. Tarjanyi of Toledo said. “I think it is an issue of where I am working. I think it bothers them. I don’t think they care for The Blade.”

Ed Whipple, who has been The Collegian’s adviser for more than eight years, said he had never heard of the rule about outside employment being enforced until Mr. Willis brought it to his attention last week.

“It’s an interesting coincidence that this comes at a time when [The Collegian] has been rather critical of the administration and the board of trustees,” said Mr. Whipple, a former managing editor at The Blade. “I hope it’s not an attempt to try to intimidate the editor or the paper.”

“It’s odd that it comes up at this particular juncture,” Mr. Whipple said. “Rules are rules, and I suppose they should be enforced, but the timing is suspect.”

Mr. Whipple said that Mr. Tarjanyi has done a good job in his position. “This is his second year [as editor-in-chief], and that’s unusual,” he said. If he were giving a grade on Mr. Tarjanyi’s performance, Mr. Whipple said it would be an A- or a B+.

At least one previous Collegian editor-in-chief, Andy Curliss, has worked for The Blade without being asked to give up his position, Mr. Whipple said.

Mr. Tarjanyi said he has not been coached by Blade editors on covering the university, nor has he taken information about the school to The Blade.

He took the Blade job to get more experience in a professional setting. He said he has been working about 10 hours a week.

Mr. Willis said the information about the editor’s outside work was volunteered by Mr. Tarjanyi during a recent discussion with him.

“It doesn’t make a difference where he works,” Mr. Willis said. “He indicated he has other employment. We have to enforce that.”

The policy, which is intended to have students devote their full energy to academics and the position for which they receive the stipend, applies to the editorship and three other posts held by students in return for accepting the $10,000 annual stipend that covers tuition and most textbooks. Those positions include the president and vice president of student government and the president of campus activities and programs.

Jeff Jones, student government president, told The Blade last night he does not hold any outside employment.

Mr. Willis said he has begun discussions with the other two students. If they have outside jobs, they will be advised to quit them if they wish to maintain their stipends, he said.

Dr. Kapoor could not be reached for comment last night, but in an April, 1999, letter he endorsed Mr. Tarjanyi for the job of editor-in-chief.

“It is my pleasure to write a letter of reference for Keith Tarjanyi,” he wrote. “Under Keith’s leadership and guidance, I’ve watched the Collegian work more aggressively to obtain up-to-the-minute news while still striving for factual and unbiased reporting.”

The letter concludes: “I truly believe that he has a strong commitment to disseminate accurate and thought-provoking information to this campus. From my experience with Keith, I recommend him for the position of editor and chief [sic].”

The central board of student media, comprised of administrators, faculty, and students, appoints The Collegian’s editor-in-chief.