UT lets editor of Collegian keep Blade job; Exception granted on policy that governs 4 campus posts

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

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The University of Toledo decided yesterday to let the editor of the campus newspaper keep an outside job at The Blade, ending a week-long controversy that featured accusations of university censorship.

“I think the whole thing was silly,” said Keith Tarjanyi, editor-in-chief of the Collegian. “It was a huge waste of time and energy on everyone’s part.”

Another student leader caught up in the dispute will be able to keep her outside employment too.

The issue surfaced Tuesday when Edward Willis, dean of students, wrote a letter to Mr. Tarjanyi demanding that he quit his outside job. Mr. Tarjanyi has been employed by The Blade since Jan. 10 as a temporary, part-time news assistant, a clerical position that does not involve writing articles.

University policy does not allow students who hold four campus positions – president and vice president of the student government, president of the campus activities and programming board, and editor of the Collegian – to hold outside employment. In exchange, the students are paid about $10,000 a year, which helps cover their tuition, room, and board costs.

On Thursday, Mr. Tarjanyi sent a letter to Mr. Willis asking that an exception to the policy be made for him. University policy allows the dean of students to grant such an exception.

Mr. Willis responded with a short letter of his own: “After careful consideration, I am granting your request. I believe this policy to be sound, however, I recognize that your situation warrants an exception.”

Joe Brennan, a university spokesman, said the decision was made after learning more about the position at The Blade.

“Mr. Willis had to look at a whole bunch of different factors, including the amount of time involved in the outside job and the nature of the work,” Mr. Brennan said. “He had to look to see whether it would interfere with the student’s performance of his on-campus duties. After talking with Mr. Tarjanyi, Mr. Willis said it would be in the interest of the student to let him keep the job.”

The policy banning outside employment has been in place for more than 15 years, but, according to university officials, it has never been enforced. Many student officers restricted by the policy have held outside jobs, including at least one other who worked for The Blade.

Mr. Tarjanyi and others have suggested that the decision to enforce the rule now was caused by a number of articles and editorials in the Collegian and The Blade critical of the university’s administration. On the day before Mr. Tarjanyi was ordered to choose one job or the other, the Collegian ran an editorial calling for the resignation of Ronald Langenderfer, chairman of the university’s board of trustees.

The university’s faculty union, the American Association of University Professors, passed a resolution Wednesday supporting Mr. Tarjanyi, calling the university’s move “selective enforcement.”

University officials have denied that the newspapers’ content had anything to do with the sudden enforcement of the policy.

Mr. Tarjanyi said he is happy the matter is coming to a close.

“I think it’s good now that everyone can get back to what they’re supposed to be doing,” he said.

Mr. Tarjanyi is not the only student leader affected by the policy.

Shannon Phillips, president of the campus activities and programming board, has a part-time job at Wildwood Athletic Club, which the university said she would have to quit. She is a recreation therapy major, and the work has enabled her to gain professional experience, she said.

Mr. Brennan said that Ms. Phillips has not yet requested an exception, but that, if she does, it would be granted.

“We will apply the policy fairly to all,” he said.

The other two student leaders affected by the policy, student government President Jeff Jones and Vice President Lavelle Edmondson, have said they do not have outside jobs.

Mr. Brennan said the administration has no intention of changing the policy and will be enforcing it strictly.

“This is the new administration, and we will pay attention to this and all the other policies of the university,” he said.