I am writing about the administrative removal of the Imprint from
 student residences. Is it censorship? It certainly is, since the
 administrator in question, Leanne O'Donnell, has admitted her intent
 was to suppress an "offensive" feature on sex. The fact that Imprint
 continues to be available elsewhere on campus is irrelevant - if the
 government removed a book from Waterloo's library and justified it by
 saying the book was still available at WLU, would that be an
 acceptable excuse?  This censorship is shameful, but it is simply one
 in a long series of incidents that have led some people to dub
 Waterloo "Censorship U".

 Whether the issue is computer newsgroups such as rec.humor. funny and
 alt.sex.stories, or newspapers dealing with the Karla Homolka case,
 university administrators consistently have decided that the proper
 way to deal with controversial expression is to censor it.

 Never mind that Policy 70 clearly states, "The academic freedom of
 students shall be protected." Never mind that for the definition of
 "academic freedom" we can turn to Section 6 of the Memorandum of
 Agreement and see that, "Academic freedom also entails freedom from
 institutional censorship." Never mind that we also read there that
 "the censorship of information is inimical to the free pursuit of
 learning? and, "the academic freedom of any person shall not be
 infringed upon or abridged in any manner."

 Are these simply words on a piece of paper, or do they mean what they
 say? It is worth comparing the current censorship at Waterloo to a
 similar incident at Middle Tennessee State University. There, a dean
 confiscated copies of the student newspaper because of an article in
 the newspaper which she felt damaged the university's reputation.

 Like the incident at Waterloo, the newspaper's editor rightly
 complained about the censorship. The difference is that at Middle
 Tennessee State, the dean apologized for her action, while at Waterloo
 Ms. O'Donnell is unrepentant.

 We risk two injuries by tolerating this censorship. First, we risk
 permanent injury to the reputation of the university. A university can
 move beyond one or two incidents of censorship without permanent
 damage, but five incidents represent a pattern of flagrant disregard
 of the rights of students and faculty to express themselves freely.
 Secondly, by not living up to our expressed commitments to academic
 freedom and free expression, we risk inspiring permanent cynicism in
 the students who look to us for moral leadership. Leaders of the
 university who refuse to condemn this censorship, such as President
 Johnston, are ultimately responsible.

 Jeffrey Shallit