“For we be desperate men, accustomed to surmounting the insurmountable.”

These words are from the first, hopeful and courageous editorial printed by this newspaper. Until then, on Jan. 14 , 1920, the word “Hoya” was found only in Greek texts and football cheers. Georgetown’s sporting teams were still called the Hilltoppers, and its students simply called themselves, well, students.

The people – that is, the students – who created this publication and its name left to us a tradition so large that it would be difficult to describe it in detail. But traditions like this don’t need an introduction. Nine decades later, following their lead, we have all grown accustomed to calling ourselves “Hoyas.”

But what if a tradition like this were to end? What if, for reasons outside the control of Georgetown’s students and alumni, THE HOYA were to die?

You may not know, but that’s a very real possibility.

For over 20 years, the staff of THE HOYA has considered the need to separate its financial and editorial operations from the university. The university’s response?

To paraphrase, “If you try to take your name with you, we will bury you.”

Georgetown’s student newspapers report on the very same institution which owns them, violating one of the most basic journalistic rules – a conflict of interest.

Content is subject to the ultimate approval of the president and, when students actively seek out advertisers, it is the university which claims most of the profits – profits earned by the work of students.

THE HOYA believes that this lack of financial independence prevents it from being able to attain the technology and staff size necessary to provide the proper level of coverage to the Georgetown community. If you’re part of a student group whose concert, speech or award wasn’t mentioned in these pages, it’s probably because editors here didn’t have enough reporters to go around.

In its current form, THE HOYA is a financially sustainable organization, able to fund its own operations. But the university does not allow the paper to keep most of its money to reinvest in its organization and develop a better newspaper for you. And it doesn’t allow the editors at THE HOYA – the people who think day and night about how to make this paper a better organization – to have final say over the biggest long-term decisions.

The university instead delegates that task to an administrative body that meets every few weeks called the Media Board, which also oversees all of the other media organizations on campus.

THE HOYA will operate much more efficiently by not having to surmount the bureaucratic hurdles of the Media Board. And some of the initiatives that it should have pursued years ago and that many independent papers around the country already have – like more regular publication, or a better Web site – may actually come to fruition.

But there’s a catch.

According to the university administration, in order for Georgetown to enter the 20th century and have an independent student newspaper, THE HOYA must die. The university has consistently refused to allow the staff of this newspaper to print independently as THE HOYA.

And students should care.

The university believes that the name of the newspaper, a name which has belonged to the paper for 87 years, belongs only to them.

University President John J. DeGioia and other administrators have gone so far as to inform THE HOYA that the university wouldn’t guarantee that an independent HOYA would be distributed on campus, and that the university may pursue legal action against any students attempting to print and distribute an independent HOYA.

Usually, students would be alarmed to know that their university had threatened to sue their peers for wanting to take ownership of the very thing they created. But, if you’re like some members of this Editorial Board, you just found out that THE HOYA wanted to go independent in the first place.

This is because THE HOYA’s Board of Directors has done a woefully inadequate job of publicizing its efforts over the past several years.

After printing dozens of flyers and a few boxes of t-shirts with the slogan “Free The Hoya” during the 2005-2006 academic year, there have been no significant attempts to raise awareness or support. Half the current student body wasn’t at Georgetown when THE HOYA last announced its intentions. No one from THE HOYA’s Board of Directors has met with university administrators in over a year to discuss the matter.

Members of THE HOYA’s Board of Directors, if they truly care about developing an independent HOYA, should be persistent and courageous. But while the blame rests squarely on THE HOYA’s Board of Directors for failing to inform students about THE HOYA’s efforts and the university’s threats, any hope for success will depend on the support of students, faculty and alumni.

The state of THE HOYA is one of uncertainty. It may remain part of the university, go independent with its name or cease to exist altogether. But the entire community – not just the university president and this paper’s Board – should have a voice.

There are some who will say that THE HOYA failing to achieve independence with the name it has held since 1920 is like having a dream deferred, fit only to be abandoned and forgotten. But THE HOYA – in name and function – is one of the oldest and greatest Georgetown traditions, and no longer belongs to its editors or Board or the university president. Its ownership shouldn’t be governed by the rules of trademark laws.

THE HOYA belongs to the students, faculty and alumni of Georgetown’s past, present and future. And the direction of that future should be determined by the collective will of all those who consider themselves part of the Georgetown community.

It is our opinion that THE HOYA’s Board must make their struggle public, and that Dr. DeGioia must let students decide if they want a free HOYA.

The editorials which appear on this page do not represent the opinion of THE HOYA, its staff or its Board of Directors. The members of the Editorial Board include current and former HOYA editors and students at large.

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