N.J. college official blocks printing of student newspaper

NEW JERSEY –Staff members of the Essex County College student newspaper, The Observer, say a college administrator attempted to stop the production of the final issue by instructing their printer not to print the paper.

According to The Observer’s Editor in Chief Melinda Hernandez and Managing Editor Joél Shofar, Dean of Student Affairs Susan Mulligan told their printer, Vanguard Media, at the beginning of June not to print the paper. The college pays for the printing.

The printer alerted the student editors, who paid the printer to complete the newspaper job in time for graduation on June 5.

Representatives from Vanguard Media declined to comment. Mulligan said the printer was instructed not to print because The Observer does not have an adviser, which it is required to have.

Hernandez and Shofar said they found a faculty member at the college to be their adviser, but Mulligan rejected him. This person still acts as their adviser.

Mulligan said the person picked to be the adviser was inappropriate and had not worked with the students. She also said there are positions on the newspaper staff that needed to be filled before the paper could be published.

There are currently six students who work on the paper.

Shofar and Hernandez distributed the newspapers at the graduation on June 5, despite being told by Essex County College campus police they had to distribute the papers outside the gym where the graduation was held, Shofar said.

Essex County College spokeswoman Karen Tinebra said because the paper does not have an adviser recognized by the college they were not considered an official student publication and were not allowed to distribute the papers inside.

"To see this kind of behavior at an institute of higher education, I’m appalled," Shofar said.

Both students say they want to continue to publish the newspaper. The next issue is scheduled for September.

"Nothing’s going to stop us from continuing the paper," Shofar said.

–By Rebecca McNulty