The paper, which editor Christopher Pizzo '06 promises will not go unnoticed, was resurrected "to offer a perspective that was desperately needed at Boston College," he said.
"When I came to BC, people said the Heights is our student paper," said Pizzo, a political science major from Parkland, Fla. "I read it for a semester and stopped. It was not an independent student newspaper; it didn't offer an exchange of ideas. It is a leftist paper of the highest order."
Pizzo, who says he has recruited more than 50 students to join him on the paper, expects that the new Observer, like its predecessor, will generate controversy on campus when it is published this week. "Anytime you take a stance against the status quo it is going to be controversial," said Pizzo. "I welcome that controversy as being important to campus debate."
Begun in 1983, the Observer cut a divisive path through Boston College during its sporadic tenure, addressing issues of race, sexual orientation and the culture of political correctness in a decidedly conservative, unapologetic manner. The Observer ceased publication in 1998 and had remained dormant until Pizzo announced that he was reviving the paper this spring. He says he expects to begin publishing on a regular basis next fall.
"The old Observer got people thinking and energized about politics and political issues," said Pizzo. "That is our goal. Some will agree with what we print, some will disagree. That is the point."
The reemergence of the Observer threatened to come at the expense of Crossroads, a student newspaper devoted to the exploration of Catholic issues. At a staff meeting this spring several of Crossroads' writers expressed interest in joining the new Observer staff to cover a wider range of political and social topics.
Despite the defections, Crossroads editor Jen Sladek '05, a philosophy major from Bethesda, Md., announced that the paper will reemerge this fall with five to six core writers in a journal or magazine format. "We are pleased to shift to this new format because we think it is a better way to present the Catholic message," said Sladek, who envisions more in-depth features and opinion pieces as well as more faculty and Jesuit submissions.
"Crossroads is a Catholic newspaper born in love and seeking the truth that engages in dialogue with the University community. We are very excited about this new means of bringing BC students to a fuller understanding of Catholic teaching and the importance of it in their lives."
The return of the Observer and the redesign of Crossroads come at the heels of an eventful year for the Heights, the University's main independent student newspaper.
Described by its managing editor Nancy Reardon in a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article as "very liberal," the Heights has faced accusations of censorship this winter from faculty and students over its decision not to print an ad containing a swastika for a student play called "Good," which presented the horrors of the Holocaust. One student letter to the Heights accused the paper of hypocrisy for refusing to run the ad while running a weekly "Sex in the University" column.
In addition, the Heights faces the likely defection of several of its Marketplace Section reporters, who have said they plan to join the staff of the Observer in the fall.
Nonetheless, with an 84-year legacy, a circulation of 10,000, a staff of 181 and ad revenue totaling approximately $150,000 per year, it remains the dominant student newspaper on campus.
"The Observer seems to be a reaction to liberal bias at the Heights," said Reardon, a political science major from Milton, Mass. "In all fairness, they can have their own outlet for that opinion. The Heights consistently strives for fair, balanced reporting and covers all issues."
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