GVSU Official Suspended After Hitler Comment
On January 23, 2019, GVSU Football's offensive coordinator, Morris Berger sat down with the student newspaper "The Lanthorn" and made comments that have him now suspended but not before officials tried to pressure the student-run paper to take them down.
When "The Lanthorn" sports editor, Kellen Voss, sat down to talk with Berger for what was supposed to be a light-hearted piece, he probably did not expect the storm that would ensue after.
In the story Voss asked Berger what three historical figures he would have dinner with, to which Berger admitted his response would not get glowing reviews.
"This is probably not going to get a good review, but I’m going to say Adolf Hitler," he said. "It was obviously very sad and he had bad motives, but the way he was able to lead was second-to-none."
According to a piece by the "Lanthorn" editorial staff, GVSU athletics reached out to Voss asking for the comments to be removed.
As a student journalist, Voss first chose to listen and removed the piece but later re-instated it, sparking conversation about journalism ethics and responsibility.
Since the post has been reinstated, MLive reports officials continued to pressure the paper, Berger has been suspended and according to staff advisor, Eric Harvey, the newsroom was given a letter from University President Philomena V. Mantella praising the paper's "professional standards."
On January 29th, also Student Press Freedom Day, the "Lanthorn" said "we neither feel guilt nor excessive pride at what we’ve done. We are satisfied with doing our job as journalists. The journalistic bar we cleared — after an initial lapse of judgment — is in fact very low. We chose to run a recorded, verbatim comment made by an influential member of the GVSU Athletics community whose job is to mentor young men. The further ramifications of Berger’s statement are out of our hands."
Full transparency, as a GVSU alumn who studied journalism alongside some of the individuals in this story, I am personally proud of their journalistic integrity and publishing the story and making sure to note the ramifications after were never their intentions.