SPLC: Two Student Newspaper Advisers Fired . . . for No Good Reason

Late last month, a pair of student newspaper advisers were separately told their employment contracts were being terminated . . . for apparently no good reason at all.

Patriot Talon adviser Vanessa Curry at the University of Texas at Tyler told the Student Press Law Center she was let go due to “complaints.”  She said the nature of the complaints or the individuals making the complaints were not revealed to her.

SPLC attorney advocate Adam Goldstein: “When you fire someone because you say there’s been complaints, but you won’t say from who and you won’t say about what, it doesn’t really have the hallmark of sincerity, does it?

Curry is convinced school officials began targeting her after a Patriot Talon editorial this past semester criticized the school for its lack of communication and maddening “cyclical bureaucracy” surrounding a sudden order for the paper to abandon its newsroom for a new out-of-the-way spot.  (Screenshot of a portion of the editorial below.)

Meanwhile, Chart adviser T.R. Hanrahan at Missouri Southern State University was fired because administrators “wanted to make a change.”  Hanrahan earned the 2010 Missouri College Media Association Adviser of the Year honor.  In his words, “How did I get so bad at my job in 12 months?”  He was not given any answers.

Of course, if a College Press Freedom Index existed, MSSU would be near the bottom.  For years, the school has operated with little to no respect for its student newspaper.  Among its transgressions: Last spring, MSSU suddenly forced the Chart to gather all information on campus through one official, the director of university relations.

Hanrahan: “This school is very important to me, and I will always love this school, but the climate that they have here with regard to the First Amendment is not healthy and I hope it will change.”

Separately, in a recent AP piece, SPLC executive director Frank LoMonte offered the most powerful quote about the precariousness of student publication advisers’ positions…

“There are two occupations in America that are more dangerous the better you are at them: journalism adviser and suicide bomber.”

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  1. […] For a recent AP story, LoMonte said separately, “There are two occupations in America that are more dangerous the better you are at them: journalism adviser and suicide bomber.” […]

  2. […] also among the most quotable men I know.  Among his gems was an aside this past spring referencing the sudden shady dismissals of two college media advisers.  In his words, “There are two occupations in America that are […]



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