PENNSYLVANIA — School officials at Muhlenberg College pulled the college newspaper from the school Web server this spring after the online newspaper published articles critical of the school.
“It is our feeling that [the administration] didn’t like the paper online because it was bad public relations for the Web site,” Brian Kela, associate editor for the Muhlenberg Weekly said in the April 21 issue of The Brown and White, the student newspaper at Lehigh University.
The decision “was strictly a procedural matter,” Michael Bruckner, vice president of university public relations, said to The Brown and White. “We want the right messages sent out. More and more, the first impression [prospective students] get of Muhlenberg is from the Web site.”
Kela and editor in chief of the Muhlenberg Weekly Larry Carney said they do not consider the action a violation of their free press rights because the university controls the Web site.
However, in a 1981 case, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that private schools were limited in their ability to restrict free expression on campus because of protections in the state constitution.
The staff of the Muhlenberg Weekly, however, does plan to move the newspaper to a new Web site owned by a former editor of the newspaper in exchange for free advertising.