Static: Wednesday, August 20, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Don’t Walk on the Aggie Press

Static knows this guy, a nice, laid-back fella, who was once threatened by a group of Texas A&M students. His crime? He was visiting the college and, unaware of the school’s rabid tradition, walked on grass. Aggies don’t like people walking on their grass. (Static thinks Aggies should smoke more grass and chill out, but that’s another story.) So, it’s not hard to imagine the current gnashing of Aggie teeth, after a liberal arts dean suggested ditching the journalism program because of a money shortage.

Most college newspapers aren’t all that great. A&M’s Battalion is no New York Times ... er ... well, maybe it is ... but anyhoo, the point is this: A major university not only needs a journalism department to train tomorrow’s Woodwards and Bernsteins, it needs a campus newspaper to keep administrators in line. College newspapers contain their share of overzealous spewing, along with creative spelling and punctuation, but most of them provide the essential Fourth Estate philosophy of keeping a watchful eye on those in power. “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” often means pointing out flawed and controversial decisions on a campus, such as killing a journalism department, which a Battalion columnist described as “arrogant backwardness.” We liked it even better when he compared the liberal arts dean to Barney Fife.

Guard on Trial

Marilyn Shirley’s long nightmare may be about over, but the bad times may be just beginning for the man she said raped and brutalized her three years ago while she was an inmate at the Carswell women’s prison. A Fort Worth federal grand jury last week indicted former prison guard Mike Miller on five felony counts, including aggravated sexual abuse of Shirley while she was a ward under his care.

The Weekly earlier this year publicized Shirley’s story of abuse, and since then, the 47-year-old former inmate, who has never asked that her name be withheld in news stories, has become something of a poster child for human rights groups fighting to end rape in the nation’s prisons. She won a civil judgment of $4 million against Miller and helped lobby the U.S. Congress for legislation to reduce rape in prisons. A Hollywood producer wants to make a “made for tv” movie about her ordeal. “Prison rape is the nation’s dirty little secret,” Shirley said. “I’ll tell my story wherever I have to, for as long as it takes.”

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