SB Info Sheds Its Moderation Like A Second Skin

Until March 31, 2022, SB info, the student body newsletter was moderated by Dr. Karnell McConnell-Black, the Vice President of Student Life. This meant that before SB info was sent out to the student body, Dr. McConnell-Black would read over the newsletter, discuss any changes he wanted, with Zenger, and approve it to be sent out. 

However, this was not always the case, as SB info, alongside the Quest, used to be an unmoderated college-managed distribution list at Reed. On March 10, 2021, former student body president Aziz Ouedraogo sent out her first SB Info titled “SB info is Black again” which joked about charging non-Black students to submit to the newsletter. Despite the lighthearted nature of this comment, it caused discontent amongst members of the student body and then the administration, who began modering SB Info. Current Student Body President Safi Zenger commented, “It was also very frustrating because it gave rise to a lot of anti-Black sentiment from the student body, a lot of people were saying problematic things in the MCs and using Aziz’s statements as proof of reverse racism, which we know does not exist. And in the midst of all this racism, the administration did nothing.” 

For about a year, SB info has been moderated by Karnell McConnell-Black. He described this experience as a positive one, stating, “I worked closely with the SB President if there were ever an element that raised concerns. It was very rare in my moderation of SB Info that there were challenges. If something did present itself, I was able to have a thoughtful conversation with the SB President.” However, Zenger had a different experience, noting that it was uncomfortable to have the letter read over, and she also felt that the authentic connection between students and SB info was severed. She said, “The other very frustrating thing was never knowing when SB Info went out and the possibility of it going out later than intended. There were a few times that SB Info went out much later than I had sent it, including a time it went out over 48 hours later.” Any replies to SB Info went through McConnell-Black, who would have to forward them to Zenger, further hindering the student-to-student relationship. 

Prior to SB info being distributed unmoderated again, Zenger was in conversation with McConnell-Black and President Audrey Bilger regarding the newsletter’s moderation. In one such meeting, Bilger suggested Senate create their own mailing list, an idea Senate initially dismissed due to the massive amount of time it would take and the possibility of some students being left out. However, following the recent protests addressing racial injustice on campus, Zenger and the rest of the Senate spent around 12 hours in over two days manually going through the directory to add each student to the new list. The purpose of this was to send out authentic information and developments regarding the protests on time.

 Miles Sanford, the Senate’s secretary, organized this list by making sure that the faculty and alumni were not included. However, Zenger still noted the problems of this approach, stating, “Every day I get an email or two from some students who aren’t on it or some faculty who are and shouldn’t be. And creating the listserv (mailing list) was definitely a time-consuming endeavor.” 

Following this situation, the Quest reached out to Dr. McConnell-Black regarding his response to the issue. He stated, “I did not have any particular reaction. We informed the SB President and Vice President of ways that they could move away from being moderated. One of those ways was that they would have to create it on their own, which is what they opted to do.” On the same topic, Zenger stated, “At the core, the idea for a new listserv came at Audrey’s suggestion, so if there is any backlash, it wouldn’t even make a lot of sense. That said, when she told us to do that, I definitely don’t think she actually thought we would. I think recommending such a taxing and mildly outlandish endeavor as if it’s our only option is an indirect means of preventing us from taking any action.” Whether or not the administration will try to regain control of SB info remains to be seen; however, it’s safe to say the newsletter will remain unmoderated by the administration in the foreseeable future.

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