Grambling State University officials shut down student paper for a day; editor demands end to administrative prior review

The editor in chief of The Gramblinite, the studentnewspaper at Grambling State University, has asked administrators to eliminate apolicy adopted last month that requires the newspaper’s faculty adviser toreview all material before publication.

Provost Robert Dixon closedThe Gramblinite’s operations on Jan. 24 before allowing itto reopen the following day under new guidelines that required the newspaper’sadviser to read and edit all material prior to publication. 

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SPLCView: There is a lot going on in Grambling, La. these days — and mostof it is clearly unconstitutional. On Jan. 17, Provost Dixon sent the paper’sadviser a memo stating that the newspaper was “suspended” until administratorsbelieved there was greater “quality assurance” of the paper. Duringa subsequent meeting, the editor of the Gramblinite, Darryl Smith, saysthat Dixon justified his decision by citing the 2005 Seventh U.S. Circuit Courtof Appeals decision in Hosty v. Carter. According to Smith,”“They’re saying that we have nothing but negative stories in thepaper.” (Louisiana is in the federal Fifth Circuit, which hassupported student press freedom many times over the years.) On Jan. 24, Dixonshut the paper down and only reopened it after requiring the adviser to read andapprove the newspaper before it goes to the printer. Thankfully, such blatantcontempt for the law on America’s public college and university campuses remainsfairly rare. But this case demonstrates how quickly things can change whengovernment officials, however wrong-headed, believe they are unrestrained by thelaw.