Op-ed: Journalism alumni call on Aoun to stop stonewalling The News

June 16, 2020

Last month, amid the coronavirus pandemic, President Joseph E. Aoun appeared on CNN to discuss Northeastern’s ambitious plan to reopen campus this fall. In December and January, Aoun spoke to the New York Times about the school. Yet, for the past seven years, Aoun and his team have repeatedly refused to be interviewed by this publication, Northeastern’s independent student newspaper. 

What does it suggest about Northeastern’s commitment to experiential learning that its leader is unwilling to sit for an interview with the campus’s only independent news source? The last time President Aoun sat for an interview with The Huntington News was 2013, when this year’s incoming freshman class was 11 years old. Learning by doing has long been the school’s mantra. Are we to understand from his refusal to engage with our student journalists — the very people he is responsible for educating — that he no longer believes it?

Aoun’s refusal to engage with The Huntington News is an affront not only to Northeastern’s student journalists – who work under tight deadlines while juggling co-op and schoolwork — but also an abdication of accountability to the entire Northeastern community. The News is the only independent local news source covering Northeastern with a deep understanding of the school. Students, faculty, staff and alumni all benefit from the coverage. We, alumni of the newspaper and university, demand better from our alma mater and the person responsible for charting its path.

Aoun’s ongoing refusal to meet with The News is especially disconcerting as Northeastern faces the perfect storm of challenges plaguing higher education: the devastation of the coronavirus and a national reckoning over institutional racism. At a university where the full freight of an undergraduate program (tuition, fees, room and board) surpassed $70,000 for the 2019-20 academic year, students deserve leadership that is transparent and willing to answer questions honestly and openly.

As leaders in the United States and abroad escalate their verbal jabs and encourage physical attacks on journalists, it’s unsettling to see Aoun and his administration embody such an icy approach toward Northeastern’s own free press. 

The administration has the opportunity to be a leader and set an example for how to engage with journalists. The Huntington News editors have offered Aoun a myriad of opportunities to do just that — to demonstrate leadership at a time when the press has been unfairly smeared as the “enemy of the people.” Yet, he has repeatedly rebuffed them, with handlers claiming he’s “too busy” or “unavailable.”

We call on Aoun to immediately schedule an on-the-record interview with the journalists at The Huntington News, and to commit to doing so regularly for the remainder of his presidency.

The president should be accountable to the almost 20,000 students he leads, and the undergraduate reporters asking questions on their behalf. Seven years of rebuffed interview requests has brought a message from Aoun and his administration that could not be clearer: He feels he owes no explanation to the community he serves. Rather than embrace an independent campus press as an integral part of the Northeastern experience, Aoun has instead sought to treat his student journalists as either inconsequential or an inconvenience.

Aoun has an opportunity to make this right. Sit down with The News. Answer its questions openly and honestly. And do so regularly. Commit to transparency, for the benefit of the entire Northeastern community.

Signed,

Afsha Bawany, Class of ’03, Style Editor ’01-02
Alejandro Serrano, Class of ’19, Reporter/City Editor ’15-17

Allison Perkins Marlow, Class of ’98, Reporter, News Editor & Managing Editor ’93-98

Amanda Hoover, Class of ’16, News Editor ’14-15

Andrew Mahoney, Class of ’96, Sports Reporter

Andy Cuneo, Class of ’03, Sports Editor, Managing Editor & Editor-in-Chief ’00-03

Aneri Pattani, Class of ’17, Contributor ’13-15
Anne Baker, Class of ’10, Reporter, Editor & Columnist ’06-10
Anne Steele, Class of ’15, City Editor ’12

Anthony Gulizia, Class of ’14, Sports Editor ’11-12

Aram Boghosian, Class of ’09, Photo Editor ’05-08

Ashley Dean, Class of ’10, Editorial Editor/Inside Editor ’09-10
Ashley Traupman, Class of ’09, Copy Editor ’05-09
Bailey Knecht, Class of ’18, Sports Editor ’14-15
Barbara (Tanski) Kennedy, Class of ’80, Photo Editor ’79
Bianca Strzelczyk, Class of ’09, Style Editor/Managing Editor ’05-07
Brad Spiegel, Class of ’91, Sports Reporter ’87
Christine Walsh McDermott, Class of ’00, Editor-in-Chief ’98-99
Christopher Doscher, Class of ’99, Managing Editor ’98
Courtney Stephan Carmichael, Class of ’01, Advertising Manager/Asst. Photo Editor ’96-00
Dan Kennedy, Class of ’79, Editor-in-Chief ’78
Dave Branda, Class of ’01, News Editor ’99-00

David Guarino, Class of ’93, Managing Editor, News Editor, Columnist & Reporter ’91-93

David Pierce, Class of ’96, Managing Editor, Sports Editor, Columnist & Reporter ’92-96
David Schutz, Class of ’93, Editor-in-Chief ’92-93
Derek Hawkins, Class of ’08, Reporter/Managing Editor ’05-08
Dolly Smith Wilson, Class of ’92, Reporter, Columnist, News Editor & Managing Editor ’87-92

Elliot Luber, Class of ’82, Editor-in-Chief ’81

Emily Huizenga, Class of ’15, Columnist ’13
Emily McCarthy, Class of ’16, Reporter/Asst. Sports Editor ’12-14
Eric Allen, Class of ’11, Editor-in-Chief ’10-11
Gail Waterhouse, Class of ’13, Recruitment Manager ’11-13

Gwen Schanker, Class of ’18, Editorial Columnist ’15-16

Isaac Feldberg, Class of ’18, Contributor
Jake Fischer, Class of ’16, Reporter/Sports Editor ’12-14
James Nash, Class of ’01, Photographer/Photo Editor ’96-01

Jared Shafran, Class of ’11, Reporter, Asst. Sports Editor & Columnist ’07-11

Jason Lefferts, Class of ’94, Editor-in-Chief ’93-94
Jenna Duncan, Class of ’12, Editor-in-Chief ’11-12
Jo-Ann Marzullo, Class of ’81, Editor-in-Chief ’80
Jon Tapper, Class of ’92, Reporter, Columnist & Editor ’87-92
Josh Trudell, Class of ’99, Photo Editor/Sports Editor ’94-98

Kaitlin Thaney, Class of ’06, Inside/Style Editor ’03-04

Katherine Daneau, Class of ’05, Reporter, Editorial Editor & Business Manager ’00-05
Kimberly Roots, Class of ’01, Style Editor ’99-00

Larz Neilson, Class of ’76, Editor-in-Chief ’74

Lisa Atkinson Davis, Staff Writer, Style Editor, News Editor & Columnist ’91-93
Maggie Cassidy, Editor-in-Chief ’09-10
Margaret (Weber) Pasquale, Class of ’92, Advertising-Business Manager/Asst. Advertising Manager ’89-92
Marisa Connolly Naughton, Class of ’02, Style Editor ’99-00
Mary Ann Georgantopoulos, Class of ’10, Reporter, Editor & Columnist ’06- 10
Mary Whitfill, Class of ’17, Editor-in-Chief ’14-16
Matt Collette, Class of ’09, Reporter/Editor ’06-09
Maureen Quinlan, Class of ’15, Inside Editor ’12
Michael McDermott, Class of ’99
Mike Biglin, Class of ’92, Sports Reporter, Editor & Columnist ’88-92
Mike Moran, Class of ’02, Sports Editor

M.J. Langathianos, Class of ’02, Reporter and Section Editor

Nate Owen, Class of ’09, Sports Reporter/Sports Editor ’06-09

Nathan Vaughan, Class of ’12, Reporter, Photographer & Asst. Editor ’07-12
N’dea Yancey-Bragg, Class of 18
Pamela Walsh, Class of ’96, Editor-in-Chief ’95-96
Paxtyn Merten, Class of ’19, Staff Writer, Editor & Editor-in-Chief ’16-19
Phil Hochmuth, Class of ’97, Editor-in-Chief ’96-97
Rachel Zarrell, Class of ’12, Managing Editor/Columnist ’07-11
Ricky Thompson, Class of ’08, Editor-in-Chief ’07-08

Sarah Moomaw, Class of ’13, Reporter/ Sports Editor ’09-13

Shay Studley Toland, Class of ’93, Editor-in-Chief ’91-92

Stephen Babcock, Class of ’06, Managing Editor ’06
Tina Cassidy, Class of ’92
Todd Feathers, Class of ’14, Managing Editor ’13-14
Tyler Blint-Welsh, Class of ’19, Reporter ’14-15
Valerie (Elmore) Forman, Class of ’79, Sports Reporter/Features Editor

Walter V. Robinson, Class of ’74

Zack Sampson, Class of ’14, News Editor ’12-13
Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Class of ’15, Reporter/Columnist ’11-14

The Huntington News • Copyright 2020 • FLEX WordPress Theme by SNOLog in