Grambling State journalists denied multiple passes to homecoming events, editor says

LOUISIANA — The Gramblinite, Grambling State University’s student newspaper, cancelled its coverage of the school’s homecoming week after staff members said student leaders and administrators denied them access to events.

Editor in Chief Darryl Smith said the Favrot Student Union, which sponsors homecoming activities, refused to provide enough press passes for newspaper staff members to cover events. Smith said the denial of passes was in retaliation for a “mid-term report card” the Gramblinite published, which criticized the school’s student union board and the Student Government Association.

The report card, published in the opinion section of the newspaper, listed several categories including administration, faculty, police and student life. Staff members gave the student life category an “F” grade, stating that the student government and the schools’ student union board need to “provide meaningful activities” for students.

“We wrote [the report card] on our opinion and from conversations with the students,” Smith said. “It was supposed to inspire changes and let the entities know exactly what their progress was.”

Each year, The Gramblinite publishes an issue highlighting activities throughout homecoming week, and usually receives at least six passes for its staff members to use, Smith said.

This year, The Gramblinite was only given one pass, which staff members assumed could be used by at least two people — a photographer and writer. But Smith said when two staff members tried to cover a concert, they were told only one person could use the pass. Although the two were eventually let into the concert, at a later event staff members were again told they could not use just one pass.

Smith, calling the incident “censorship,” said Gramblinite staff members made a unanimous decision to cancel coverage of any homecoming activities the student union board sponsored.

Grambling Associate Director of Student Activities Terry Lilly denied that staff members were ever barred from any of the events. He said because many of the activities were sold out, passes for the Gramblinite had to be limited. Lilly called the situation a “misunderstanding” and said that staff members were eventually let in to all activities.

“[The Gramblinite] were not the only ones to get [fewer] passes, “ Lilly said. “We had a limited number of seats … it doesn’t take 10 people to write an article.”

Smith said the newspaper and the student government are working toward a resolution, and student government leaders recently attended a Gramblinite staff meeting to discuss the issue.

“I hope we can move forward instead of having the two organizations fighting,” Smith said.