Big Question: ‘Should Colleges Be Allowed To Censor Campus Papers?’

The central question featured in a recent edition of Editor & Publisher’s popular “Critical Thinking” column touches on an issue — and activity — of immense personal interest: student press censorship.

Specifically, E&P staffer Nu Yang asked, “To what extent should administrators of public universities have the right to censor student newspapers that receive funding as part of their university affiliation?” Or asked another way, at the brass tacks level, as the headline shares: “Should Colleges Be Allowed To Censor Campus Papers?”

2Saba Hamedy, a young Boston University alumnae who previously ran The Daily Free Press, responds that simply because schools have the right to censor due to their ultimate ownership of the papers it does not mean they should carry out such draconian measures.

Hamedy: “When administrators make decisions on behalf of school newspapers, it is as if they forget the First Amendment even exists. However, it’s not up to the administrators to determine a journalist’s right. It is the role of a journalist to cover everything and anything newsworthy — and to sacrifice that, means sacrificing the credibility and value of a newspaper.”

I also gave my two cents to E&P.  I’m in agreement with Hamedy. A portion of my answer: “Universities — public or private, large or small — should have no right to censor the student media operating on their campuses, even those they fund, house, and allow distribution.

Schools should grant student newspapers basic press freedoms for the same reason they field football teams with pads. Without them, students get hurt. They then become more cautious, undoubtedly affecting their performance. And they subsequently fail to learn the game the way it should be played.

“At most schools, plenty of student press pads — or safeguards — already exist. Faculty advisers, business managers, for-credit practicums, campus media boards, and student activities fee committees all provide financial and editorial supervision. By censoring, administrators bypass these safeguards, making them seem just as unimportant as the student press itself. . . .”

To read the rest, click here or on the screenshot below.

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