Editors sue university for First Amendment violations

ILLINOIS — Student editors at Governors State Universityfiled a lawsuit against the university in January, claiming thatadministrators violated their First Amendment rights by exercisingprior restraint over the newspaper.

In their complaint, Jeni Porche and Margaret Hosty, editorsof The Innovator student newspaper, accuse university officialsof tampering with their mail, locking them out of their office,replacing a computer without consent and calling the paper’s printerand ordering him not to print any further issues unless an administratorhas read the paper and approved its content.

The Innovator has not published since the Oct. 31 issuebecause, Porche and Hosty say, Dean Patricia Carter called thepresident of Regional Publishing Corporation on Nov. 1 and toldhim to cease printing the paper.

Former Innovator adviser Geoffroy De Laforcade saidhe believes Carter halted printing because the Oct. 31 issue angeredthe administration. Hosty, managing editor of The Innovator,wrote an article for that issue about a grievance De Laforcadehad filed against the university regarding his dismissal. In thesame issue, a letter to the editor by De Laforcade appeared, whichhe says was unrelated to his complaint and was written beforehe knew that Hosty had written about the incident for that issue.

Administrators say Hosty and Porche, who are also members ofthe student government, have acted unethically by writing abouttheir adviser’s complaint and publishing his letter and otherwork in the paper. Officials also said the editors work "failedto meet basic journalistic standards," according to an openletter to the campus community from GSU president Stuart Fagan.

De Laforcade, now a professor at Blackburn College, said Hostyand Porche have "made great strides [to produce] a seriousnewspaper and a voice for students’ interests," and thatthe two are simply trying to defend their rights.

"They tried everything they could before filing a lawsuit… it was the lawyers that advised [them] to sue," he said.

Hosty and Porche are asking for compensatory damages in excessof $75,000 and punitive damages in excess of $1,000,000.