Fired student newspaper adviser will not join student editors in appeal

KANSAS — Former Kansas State University student newspaper adviser Ron Johnson will not join an appeal in a lawsuit against the school, he announced Tuesday, leaving two former student newspaper editors as the sole plaintiffs.

The former editors of the Collegian, Sarah Rice and Katie Lane, filed an appeal Tuesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, hoping to overturn a decision by a federal district court. The court ruled on June 2 that neither Johnson’s nor the students’ First Amendment rights had been violated when the school removed him from his position as a result of a “content analysis.”

In a statement, Johnson said although he will not be named in the lawsuit, he supports Lane and Rice’s efforts to overturn the ruling.

“I remain troubled by the chilling effect that this decision, if left intact, will have on the collegiate press, which should enjoy the same constitutional rights as the press at large,” Johnson said.

The court had ruled that Johnson was fired because of the “overall” content of the paper and not because of specific articles. The paper had been criticized before by school officials for a lack of diversity reporting.

Johnson was told in May 2004 that he was being dismissed as the paper’s adviser, and was told later that it was because of a decline in quality of the paper.

–Rebecca McNulty

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