MARYLAND — Astudent editor at Johns Hopkins University said around 900 copies of hisindependent, conservative publication went missing shortly after they weredistributed May 13.
Jered Ede, editor of The Carrollton Record, said he suspectsthe paper was stolen in response to the cover story in the issue titled,”DeepthroatingHopkins, How Your Tuition Hike Pays the Gay Porn Industry.” The articlereports on the showing of the 1972 adult film ”Deep Throat” and acampus visit by gay pornography director Chi Chi LaRue, which were paid for withstudent fees.
Matthew Viator, co-director of the DiverseSexuality and Gender Alliance, which sponsored Chi Chi La Rue’s visit,said there are a number of inaccuracies in the story, which Ede wrote. He said La Rue spoke on how the taboo was removed from safe-sex practices and the talk was not a “porn” event as the newspaper described it.
But Viator’s organization has a problem specifically with thecover of The Carrollton Record issue,which he said contained pictures of DSAGA members taken from a group listing onthe social networking site Facebook without the members’permission.
”By associating our faces with using studenttuition money to pay for porn, they are defaming our character,” Viatorsaid.
But Viator said he did not confiscate any of the stolennewspapers and he is not aware of anyone in DSAGA who dideither.
When Ede tried to report the theft to campussecurity, he said the office would not allow him to file a report and referredhim to Dean of Students Susan Boswell.
Ede said Boswell told him thenewspaper was removed from residence halls because it was banned fromdistribution there.
A secretary in Boswell’s office saidBoswell was not speaking publicly on the incident and referred calls to DennisO’Shea, a university spokesman.
O’Shea said a schoolpolicy states that only the university’s student newspaper,The Johns Hopkins News-Letter, can bedistributed in residence halls.
”The Carrollton Record is welcomed to distribute this issue at the usual places on campuswhere periodicals are distributed,” O’Shea said. ”Those placesdo not include residence halls. We don’t want them cluttered with the manystudent publications.”
O’Shea said copies of theconservative paper that were distributed in the residence halls had beencollected by administrators. But he said they were not disposed of, and theycould be picked up for redistribution outside the residencehalls.
Shelly Fickau, director of residence life, did not return acall seeking comment.
Ede said his publication has been distributingon campus for five years, and ”we’ve always distributed in theresidence halls.” He said other publications have distributed there aswell.
O’Shea said Fickau ”has no memory of[The Carrollton Record] being in theresidence hall,” and that the policy against distribution by publicationsother than the student newspaper is only enforced ”when it comes to theattention of residence life.” He said it is possible that a studentcomplained about the publication being in the residencehalls.
Student press advocates said the policy O’Shea isdescribing amounts to viewpoint based censorship.
”They arebasically deputizing complaining students to decide what’s going to becensored, if that’s how they are working,” said Robert Shibley, vicepresident of the Foundation for Individual Rights inEducation. ”Going to viewpoint based censorship in response to complaintsis something that is contrary to the very notion of the freedom of thepress.
”In general, Johns Hopkins is a private university, notbound by the First Amendment. But as one of our nations leading universities,[and one] that is committed to freedom of speech and academic freedom, we wouldexpect Johns Hopkins to treat all viewpointsequally.”
O’Shea said Johns Hopkins is committed to opendiscourse and administrators were simply enforcing university policy in thisinstance.
Ede said he contacted FIRE after his publication was stolenand the security office would not allow him to file a theft complaint. Shibleysaid the nonprofit organization is currently looking into thesituation.
Aside from the estimated 300 copies distributed in theresidence halls, which Ede said administrators have returned to him, Ede said hehas reason to believe close to 1,000 newspapers at distribution points aroundcampus were stolen as well. But because the security department would notinvestigate the theft, ”we have no evidence whatsoever,” hesaid.
O’Shea said he was not aware that campus security did notallow Ede to file a report, but that ”if there was evidence of theft,security would be the place to report it.”
Ede said he filed acomplaint with the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity, arguing theuniversity did not take the theft seriously. He said a complaint had been filedwith the office against the newspaper in response to the stolenissue.
Viator said his group has asked administrators toremove the newspaper from campus because it violates student code of conductpolicies against harassment and intimidation.
”They arestraddling the fence,” Viator said of the university’s position.”They say we aren’t going to pull the publications, but you arewelcomed to file charges of harassment.
”By crying for theFirst Amendment to protect anything and everything, it is my opinion that you infact, actually abuse theliberty.”
O’Shea said someone did make a discrimination complaintagainst the conservative newspaper with the office, and that ”we areobligated to follow up on complaints. I wouldn’t say any more about it atthis point.” In response to Ede’s allegation that the universitydiscriminates against conservative viewpoints, O’Shea said, ”therehave been conservative viewpoints on campus regularly, and they are welcomedalong with any other viewpoints.”
Ede said he estimates thetheft has cost the newspaper $1,000. The newspaper was denied funding by thestudent activity council and is independent from the university, hesaid.
Although Ede said it is difficult publishing a conservativenewspaper on campus, he did not expect to be in the situation he isin.
”I’m disappointed, angry, frustrated. Every time
The Carrollton Record or a conservativegroup on campus brings up something of controversy, we are chastised, accused of harassment, discrimination, anything to get us to stop,” he said.”The hardest thing to deal with at this point is that the university justdoesn’t care. It’s kind of a blow to the stomach.”