NEW JERSEY — Karen Bosley is back to work as the adviser of the Ocean County College Viking News after a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction in her pending lawsuit, and students say her return has been essential to the paper’s production.
“With no Karen Bosley we weren’t going to be here,” Viking News Editor in Chief Alberto Morales said. “We didn’t even start [planning for the newspaper] until the injunction was placed.”
Bosley was reinstated as adviser of the newspaper last month by the college’s board of trustees after a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction in July against the college’s attempt to remove her from the position.
The battle between the students and OCC administration began last year when three editors from the paper filed a lawsuit claiming several actions taken by the college administration, including Bosley’s removal, were a form of censorship and unconstitutional.
Bosley, who has been the newspaper’s adviser for 35 years and is a former member of the Student Press Law Center Board of Directors, filed a separate lawsuit alleging that her removal was a result of age discrimination and retaliation for articles that appeared in the paper critical of the college’s administration.
Before the judge’s ruling, Viking News staff members had put usual summer preparations on hold, Morales said. He also said the newspaper’s budget was not turned in on time, causing issues to be published on smaller-size paper.
The Viking News and the school’s administration have not been in contact and Morales said their relationship remains stagnant. When it comes to interviewing administrators, Morales said, new writers are informed about the pending lawsuit.
“We just keep doing what we’re doing,” he said. “If [administrators] don’t want to talk to us, we just write the facts. We are cautious with administrators, definitely not all of them, but we know some have a different agenda.”
The students had four other claims in their request for an injunction that were ultimately denied. The students asked the court to bar the administration from creating a Student Media Advisory Board, changing the newspaper’s computer system and eliminating the student media workshops that Bosley taught.
The students also asked that Joseph Adellizi, OCC’s director of student media, be barred from accessing the Viking News office and from having prior review of the paper’s articles and editorials.
Morales said Adellizi has not been around as the staff prepares for its first issue, which will be distributed Sept. 21.
With the cancelled student workshops, Bosley is currently teaching English. But she remains optimistic and will continue to pursue her case.
“I hope we can get our journalism classes back and [I can] do a good job as adviser–and that the administration doesn’t interfere with [the students’] First Amendment rights,” she said.