When a student goes to college, their family expects them to act like an adult. Parents trust their children to make good decisions and live relatively on their own for the first time. There are no curfews or chaperones, but there are flexible class schedules, allowing students to wake up at 8 a.m. or noon. Students have to handle their own problems in classes, take themselves to the doctor, buy their own groceries and drink responsibly. An overwhelming majority of college students are at least 18 years old, and therefore legally considered an “adult,” anyway. College is a step into the real world–a look at what to expect when we move out of our parents’ homes and start living on our own.
So, if we are expected to act like adults, we expect to be treated like adults.
Last week, Geisinger Health System purchased ad space from The Bucknellian, and used it to run an ad on new liposuction technology. Since the paper went to print, we have been informed that this made some faculty members uncomfortable. The Bucknellian values free speech, and any letter sent to the staff will be personally reviewed by the editors-in-chief and printed in the following week’s issue. This is the easiest way to let us know when there is a problem. Not only will we know, but we will openly and willingly print a complaint about our actions in our own publication, for our entire readership to see. However, at no point have any of these faculty members contacted The Bucknellian. Instead, they went to the President’s office, an office completely unaffiliated with our entirely student-run newspaper.
As an adult, it is a college student’s decision as to whether or not they want liposuction, just like it is their decision whether or not they want to go to a bar or a tanning salon, both of which we have run ads for in the past and gotten no backlash for. A college student is an adult. With that in mind, we cater towards an adult audience. We can’t operate under the assumption that our audience is G-rated; it’s just not realistic. And contrary to popular belief, the University is not actually in a bubble. Turn on the TV and anyone–college students, elementary students and college professors alike–will see commercials for birth control, Viagra, liposuction and more. These do not promote promiscuous, irresponsible activity or aim to offend anyone. They serve to inform the public.
The Geisinger ad itself is not prejudiced. It is not racist, it is not sexist, it is not favoring the skinny. Quite the opposite, actually. If the faculty had looked a little closer at the page, they would see that the liposuction ad is placed next to two ads for bars and cheesesteaks. The Bucknellian does not have a bias here. We don’t mind if people want to go to a bar and consume their weight in sirloin steaks and beer. We don’t mind if a student wants to get liposuction. Further, ads placed in our paper do not represent our own opinion as an editorial board or an independent publication. This is clearly stated in The Bucknellian’s Advertising Policy. Ads are our income. We are simply printing information. It is information from the client, not a bias from The Bucknellian. We may not agree with the client’s choice to advertise to this particular audience, but again, that is not our decision.
If a student is curious about liposuction, has thought about it and wants to go through with the procedure, this ad provides them with the information that they deserve to get, from a trusted, respectable health care provider. Actually, Geisinger runs the University’s own Student Health Services. The Bucknellian is not going to censor information from our own University’s health services, or anyone that they have chosen to partner with. These are figures that we should trust, if we are going to trust anyone.
At the end of the day, The Bucknellian staff is comprised of a group of mature, responsible and logical adults. We can defend our choices. We ask to be treated like the adults that we are expected to be, and we strive to give the same respect to our readers and peers. As a student-run publication, there is no one outside of the editorial staff that has the right to tell a company that they can or cannot advertise with us. In the “real world,” not everybody will be happy all the time. That’s just not how life works. So, during this crucial time in our lives when we are expected to be adults and prepare for the challenges of the work force, how are we going to develop problem-solving and confrontation skills when we are still babysat at the first sight of conflict? Unfortunately, as evidenced by the administration’s lack of communication with the students and this student newspaper, we aren’t. How will the student body develop responsible decision-making skills and a strong will against the unattainable perfection and photoshopped beauty of advertisements when we shield them from every possible bad influence? They won’t.