OREGON — A student editor filed a lawsuit against three universityofficials March 16 for violating his First Amendment rights and confiscatinga box of confidential university records that landed outside his officedoor.
Portland State University officials locked Dimitrius Desyllas, editorof an alternative campus publication, The Rearguard, out of thenewspaper’s office and detained him for more than two hours after theylearned he had the box of confidential student disciplinary records, Desyllassaid. He said campus police followed him around campus for almost two hours,threatened to arrest him and threatened to obtain a search warrant if hedid not give them the files.
Rod Diman, assistant to Portland State’s president, said he, the studentgovernment president and a campus police officer simply talked to Desyllasafter they received a note from him indicating he had the files. Dimansaid there was no interrogation and said he talked to Desyllas for no morethan 40 minutes.
According to Diman, the university “has not been able to track wherethat box was between when it was closed” in 1995 and when it was left outsidethe Rearguard office.
After school officials questioned him, Desyllas gave them the box offiles and was allowed back into his office.
Desyllas’ attorney, Philip Lebenbaum, said the suit was filed in federalcourt, and there is a conference scheduled for early July. He filed anamended complaint in May accusing the university’s public safety officersof tearing down posters promoting a press conference about the case.
Lebenbaum accused school officials of engaging in blatant censorshipof The Rearguard.
“It’s really no different than the police finding that the local newspaperhas sensitive information that the police were in charge of and the policegoing in and detaining an editor and locking down the pressroom,” he said.