College students confront censorship

Journalism department faculty at Auburn University in Alabama arefighting a proposal to make the journalism department part of the school’scommunications department. Some faculty members believe that the proposedmerger is a reprisal by the school’s board of trustees, who want to punishthe department, and by extension, the student newspaper, for articles andeditorials the Auburn Plainsman has published over the past two yearscriticizing the trustees.

Administrators dispute that idea, calling the proposal a way to savemoney and streamline the department.

The dean of students at the College of Lake County in Antioch,Ill., halted the printing of the student newspaper in March after editorsrefused to allow her to edit the issue for spelling and grammatical errors.One day prior to the incident, the dean had informed the editors of TheChronicle that unless she was allowed to edit the next issue, she wouldcall the printer and halt publication.

State University of New York at Buffalo police took the editorand the two managing editors of the school’s student newspaper, TheSpectrum, into custody in March for trespassing in the student union.The editors did not leave their office, which is located in the union,until 15 minutes after the building closed because they were working ontheir next issue. The incident was the most recent in a string of battlesbetween administrators at the university and editors of the student newspaperover the midnight closing time of the building. Spectrum editorsargue that the hours of the student union inhibit their ability to producethe thrice-weekly newspaper.

After the federal Office for Protection from Research Risks halted newenrollments in ongoing research trials involving human subjects at VirginiaCommonwealth University because of concerns over supervision and documentation,school officials told students in the communications department that theban on “human subject research” applied to any research involving humansubjects, including interviews.

Communications students and faculty said they were told in Februarythat they had to request departmental approval before they could conductinterviews for news stories. But several days later, the top research officialat the university said communications students were exempt from the ban,and students conducting interviews for journalism, advertising or publicrelations classes would not be affected.

The student community government at Rhode Island College cutthe editor of the student newspaper’s stipend for the month of Novemberin half after the newspaper refused to publish an apology for a spoof issuethat some on campus found offensive. According to Alex Franco, managingeditor of The Anchor, student government officials agreed to returnthe editor’s stipend in full, but then announced plans to cut the newspaper’sprinting budget in half.