Students and alumni of Shih Hsin University protested on Tuesday against the suspension of two campus newspapers funded by the university, urging the school’s board of directors to continue to support the publications.
Dozens of students and alumni gathered in front of the administrative building of the school in Taipei, holding placards that read: “Give me back Taiwan Lipao (台灣立報) and Pots Weekly (破報).”
Pots Weekly stopped publication last month, while Taiwan Lipao recently suspended publication for four months, after the board of directors cut funding for the two papers.
The Shih Hsin University Students Labor Rights Group, which led the protest, said the board of directors’ decision to cut the budgets was made hastily and most students and teachers did not have a say in the decision.
Chen Chiung-ting (陳炯廷), a member of the group, said Taiwan needs newspapers like Pots Weekly and Taiwan Lipao and he is against the board’s suspension of public instruments based on private considerations.
The group called on the university to set up a monitoring mechanism to prevent its board from cutting budgets at will.
The university’s alumni association also issued a statement on Monday voicing support for the publications.
It said that a trust should be established to run the papers, and cited as an example the British daily the Guardian.
Shih Hsin president Lai Ting-Ming (賴鼎銘) addressed the student protesters, saying that print newspapers are facing difficulties and even campus newspapers with higher circulations have dropped print versions to become online publications. The school is discussing such a path for Lipao, he said.
Wen Nien-hsuan (文念萱), head of Shih Hsin University Affiliated Institutions, said the two newspapers have been operating at a deficit for a long time and there was no choice but to suspend them.
However, the protesters asked whether Lai and Wen had the authority to speak on behalf of the board and insisted on a response from the board members.
Taiwan Lipao was established in 1988 by Cheng She-wo (成舍我), an educator, newsman and founder of Shih Hsin University.
It focuses on issues related to education, the environment, disadvantaged groups and social movements.
Pots Weekly was established in 1995 by Cheng’s daughter, Lucie Cheng (成露茜), as a free publication.
It highlights arts, labor and gender and environmental issues.