The Log, CC and the Record: Time to play the blame game

MTV is taking over campus. It sponsored that Sixth Element rave, somebody in my dorm watches TRL with that sexy hunk Carson Daly at least once a week outside of my room and now, that horrendous “game” show, The Blame Game, has somehow taken over College Council (CC), the Record and the Log. Run for cover, because horrible teenie-bopper music is coming to town!

As for the Blame Game, it appears that some MTV producers asked CC one question and then taped their meeting last Wednesday. The question: Who is to blame for the recent shutdown of the Log’s loud musical events? Choose one.

a. A cranky, easily irritated, light sleeping professor?

b. A disrespectful and overly boisterous student body?

c. The Record for deciding to print an article about the possible compromise?

d. CC and the Log Committee for not realizing the Record had a duty to print any and all news it uncovers, especially when it occurs in its own office?

e. The anti-fun “disturbing the peace” laws that the Log may have been violating?

f. The violence inherent in the system…

The list can go on and on. At some point (right now, in fact) the Blame Game, however thrilling it can be (God only knows why) is a complete waste of energy (did you expect anything else from the television channel that gave us Pauly Shore?).

Seriously, though, the Log is closed. The faculty is complaining about late noise on weeknights (that’s right, to non-students, Thursday is a weeknight…shocking, I know) and students are complaining about the loss of the best turn-around stories of the year in Williamstown.

Many CC members spent about ten minutes vehemently attacking the Record for sacrificing a compromise in its zealous quest for all the news fit to print. Many Record writers blame CC for having the nerve to ask them to censor themselves and sacrifice journalistic integrity for a cheap Thursday night dance party with bland and predictable music. The administration looks to the faculty, which looks to the student body, which looks to the administration…

And so on, and so on. Forever and ever, amen. Is this in any way, shape or form productive? No. It’s fun, but effectively worthless. The fact is that because of legal and understandable complaints, the Log was shut down. Likewise, the fact is that there are only two weeks of classes left. In addition, the fact is that the Record does not self-censor for “the good of the student body,” however defined. The fact also is that CC should have kept its mouth shut around reporters when in the middle of secret negotiations. All these facts are true, and only the first two are important in the discussion about the Log.

Personally, I’ve had many discussions already about the Record’s decision to print its lead article of last week (disclosure: I was just as surprised by the story as everybody else). Some I’ve won; some I’ve lost. I enjoyed the discussions thoroughly – free speech vs. the good of society is a dilemma all students should consider and argue, and I’m glad many of us are doing so now.

At the same time, few people have been looking beyond that discussion. Students want the Log open. Local tenants want to be able to sleep reasonable hours. These goals should be easily reconcilable if both sides are willing to make sacrifices.

The most obvious answer is for Williams to move the tenants out of the building to another area within Williamstown. Once these tenants are given that option (free of charge, of course, which is a small one-time price for the college to pay to keep a positive social element on campus) Williams could then amend the terms of the lease to add a clause requiring no complaints about the Log’s volume. Unfortunately, this option is not available for immediate use, but could be put into place over the summer. That means that while the tenants have to bear the pain of moving, the students have to bear the pain of going two more Thursday nights without a Log dance. Reasonable, right?

This is a quick sketch of one of many possible options. The important point is that there are such options, most of which are acceptable to all parties and – more importantly – feasible.

However, students have focused not on long term solutions but on the Blame Game. While we are playing this amusing game, can’t we also make sure that we never have to play it again? It is crucial to define the role of the Record on campus as well as to enhance the College Council’s understanding of journalistic ethics, but not right now. Right now, about 99 percent of the school really only cares about the Log, as they should. Student leaders also should be focused on the Log for the rest of the year.

The Blame Game is just a bad show on MTV, so what is it doing invading Williams College?