CMA censures Oklahoma Baptist University after adviser contract not renewed

College Media Advisers, a professional association of collegenewspaper advisers, censured Oklahoma Baptist University this month after it didnot renew the student newspaper adviser’s contract because of hisobjections to prior review. 

CMA began its investigation after theuniversity decided not to renew Philip Todd’s contract in the spring of2005. Todd had worked with the student newspaper, The Bison, for fouryears starting in 2000. A year after his hiring, the college president beganasking Todd to edit every issue of the newspaper, the association said.According to CMA President Lance Speere, the group found that Todd was broughtinto the job with the understanding that the position did not entail priorreview.

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SPLCView: While private schools generally have considerable leeway in decidingthe degree of press freedom under which their student media operate, it iscertainly unfair (and possibly illegal) to promise one thing and later doanother, as was determined by CMA investigators to be the case here. Moreover,despite school officials’ quibbles with semantics, CMA’s censure merely confirmswhat all parties agree occurred at OBU: an adviser is no longer employed becausehe refused to read and edit the student newspaper prior topublication.