New 'Student' Bodies

Well, if it isn't Brian Ferguson! What a surprise!

Less than a month after it first hit the streets, The Austin Student, the fledgling weekly college newspaper, is already experiencing its first bubbles of turmoil. Editor Jeremy Wells, whose smiling face was front and center in the photo accompanying the Austin American-Statesman's obligatory puff piece on the paper's launch, is, as they say, no longer with the publication. Wells, the Student's lone full-time editorial employee, presumably left to "pursue other opportunities," although publisher Evelyn Gardner – former advertising director for The Daily Texan – refused to comment.

Wells' departure comes just two weeks after the addition of Managing Editor Brian Ferguson, who last spring unsuccessfully ran for editor of the Texan amid much campus furor. Before the Student launched on Sept. 2, Ferguson vehemently denied any involvement with the new paper, despite widespread speculation that he would play a role. "I didn't think they would even consider taking me, I'm such a political liability," said Ferguson, a longtime campus activist who decried the clubby atmosphere and narrow coverage of the Texan during the campaign. "After last spring [the election], it was like hiring O.J. to be your babysitter."

But speculation that Ferguson was involved with the Student – which is distributed free on five local campuses, including UT – was no great leap of the imagination. When Ferguson ran for the Texan editorship, he was supported by student employees of the Texas Student Publications ad department, then headed by Gardner, and several Student staffers worked on his campaign. But Ferguson insists that he had no intention of getting involved until he showed up in the office and volunteered to help out on the first issues. "I realized this is fun stuff," he said. "I want this to work. I think it would be great to have two solid papers on campus."

In a column published on the Student editorial page, Gardner said she "never anticipated" Ferguson working for the paper until he started volunteering. "The irony is the fact that so many people assumed him into a position that he undoubtedly deserves," she wrote. Ferguson, who is working without a salary, says he doesn't expect the paper to "wade too deep into politics," but will instead focus on what he calls "mullet coverage," featuring a little news in the front of the paper and a lot more coverage of campus sports, religion, and social events in the back.

Ferguson declined to discuss Wells' sudden departure. But he says he has no interest in the editor job and still plans to take the bar exam in February.

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Austin Student, Jeremy Wells, Brian Ferguson, Daily Texan, Evelyn Gardner, Texas Student Publications

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