INDIANA– If writing for a newspaper was considered a football game, Joseph Oladiji would have to dig deep in his playbook repertoire to figure out his next plan of attack.
That is because Oladiji, a senior at Thornridge High School, was benched by his principal until February of 1999 because of a column he wrote that criticized the school’s football team.
School officials, including Thornridge Assistant Principal Karen Fulton, decided to suspend Oladiji from the paper in November after the article ran in the Oct. 23 edition of The Bagpipe.
“Based on my investigation of this, Joseph wrote an article criticizing the football team, but with no facts, just opinion,” said Fulton in a [Hammond] Times article. “He brutalized the football team in the process. That’s not what we’re trying to teach our young people to do in their journalism classes. There has to be accountability.” Oladiji’s article ran in the paper’s sports section.
“With the horrible underclass records, and the unspeakable varsity winnings, it is no wonder Thornridge football has been synonymously connected to losing for so long,” wrote Oladiji. “It is truly disappointing that so many players join the team just to ‘wear’ the jersey and not for the love of the game or the dedication to the cause.”
Oladiji told the Times that he is trying to start an underground paper, and is hoping to generate money to publish it via community businesses and institutions.
“They didn’t like what I said,” said Oladiji in the Times article. “They said I didn’t research my opinions and I was disrespectful. The real reason is, they just don’t agree with what I wrote. They want a positive school spirit type of atmosphere.”
Fulton said the reason the senior was suspended from the paper was not just because of the article, but also because of behavioral problems.
“There are extenuating circumstances involved here,” Fulton told the Times. “He was insubordinate with a teacher and he was insubordinate with me…. The student paper is not some sort of personal platform.”