Failed North Idaho College Board of Trustees candidate Stan Hess is back on campus, this time as a staff member for the college’s student paper, the Sentinel.
A self-proclaimed European American civil rights activist, Hess said he hopes to give Sentinel readers a different perspective on campus issues.
“I joined the Sentinel just to be involved and, hopefully, be able to write stories that are of interest to European American students,” said Hess, the former leader of the California faction of ex-Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke’s European-American Unity and Rights Organization. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks white supremacists, considers Hess to be a white supremacist of national prominence.
Hess will be joined by another Sentinel newcomer, NIC Athletic Director Al Williams.
Williams, who’s African American, said he didn’t join because Hess did; rather, he wanted to learn about journalism and the decisions that drive news coverage.
The Sentinel is a for-credit class at North Idaho College. Anyone who signs up in time and pays the course fee can enroll. Both Hess and Williams said they’re not enrolled in any courses other than the Sentinel course.
Hess ran for NIC’s Board of Trustees last year on a European American rights platform. He said he was encouraged by his strong showing – he earned almost 12 percent of the vote in a 5-way race – and feels his candidacy was “a breath of fresh air for freedom of speech” and diversity of opinions on campus.
As a beginning staff member, Hess will be expected to write news stories and won’t necessarily get to pen opinion columns right away, as Hess hopes, said Sentinel adviser Nils Rosdahl.
“You kind of have to earn opinion,” Rosdahl said.
Though Sentinel staffers are encouraged to have taken or be enrolled in NIC’s news writing class, it isn’t required, and the course isn’t offered this semester.
Rosdahl said that, at first, he was “uptight” about Hess’s position at the Sentinel because his views could put even more pressure on editors “who already work very hard.”
But Rosdahl said his stress lessened after he remembered that Hess will be just another staffer.
“He will have to conform to some rules – any writer has to conform to rules that include not libeling anybody or any group. He’ll have to make deadlines like anyone else. And he has to be aware that a 20-year-old student will be editing his stuff,” Rosdahl said.
Hess, 62, said he plans to stay at the Sentinel for as long as the college permits. “I’m going to do this until I get some results from this college,” Hess said.
He points to an incident of an NIC student attempting to start a pro-American club on campus who saw her promotional signs defaced. Hess said no staff member would agree to sponsor the club as NIC requires.
“If this had been an African American who wanted to start a club, it would have been approved in a heartbeat,” Hess said.
“… The bottom line is, it’s all about freedom of speech and allowing these students to hear a variety of opinions. That’s how you learn.”
Williams said his decision to sign up for the class was driven largely by complaints he’s had about NIC’s coverage of sports.
“I really respect what the Sentinel does, and I think they do an awesome job,” Williams said.
“(But) I think they could be doing it a little differently.”
While being on staff the same time as Hess could “make it kind of fun,” Williams said he would have signed up for the course regardless. “It works out great in that event, but this is something I’ve actually thought about doing in the past,” he said.
Sentinel News Editor Holly Bowen said staff positions for the new semester haven’t been decided yet, but Williams probably won’t be covering sports because of the potential conflict of interest.
As for Hess, Bowen said though opinion articles are reserved for senior staffers, much of the time the section is low on content and takes whatever staffers submit.
Hess said he’ll take any assignments he can get.