Student media board president at Colorado State Univ. resigns after proposing change to student media policy

Following his proposal that would have allowed the student media board atColorado State University to punish student journalists for publishing”indecent” material, the interim president of that board resigned Nov. 16 andwithdrew the proposal.

James Landers announced he was stepping down from the board in an e-mail to

The Coloradoan, a local newspaper, citing tensions between him and thestudent-run newspaper, The Rocky Mountain Collegian, over the role of theCSU Board of Student Communications.

Lander’s proposal and resignation came after Collegian Editor inChief David McSwane ran a well-publicized and controversial editorial in theSept. 21 issue of the Collegian that included profanity.

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SPLC View: Apparently we spoke too soon. Last month in this space,after the CSU Board of Student Communications decided to “admonish” — but notfire, as had been threatened — McSwane for his use of the “f-word” in afour-word editorial about free speech and President Bush, we said “cooler heads[had] prevailed.” Alas, Landers, a journalism professor at CSU — someone,frankly, who should know better — couldn’t leave the matter alone and proposedthe policy change. Lander’s reasoning, which he provided the newspaper staff:”As publisher, BSC has ultimate authority. This reflects reality. In the realworld, which the Collegian is supposed to prepare you for, an editor works for apublisher.” The problem with Lander’s take was that unlike in the so-called”real-world” of commercial journalism where the private publisher actually doesown the press and pays the bills out of his or her pocket, Landers and a numberof his fellow BSC board members, none of whom have probably given one dime oftheir own money directly to the Collegian, are all government officials whoseactions are limited by the First Amendment. We have a First Amendment because –while we may also not like what an editor publishes — we don’t want governmentofficials being the judge and police of what is “indecent,” “vulgar” orotherwise offensive. That’s First Amendment 101. Hopefully, it’s a lesson thathas now been taken to heart at CSU.