Quinnipiac officials threaten to ban campus SPJ chapter after helping independent newspaper

CONNECTICUT — The Quad News, an online-only newspublication at Quinnipiac University, is discovering that operating anindependent newspaper does not come easy. Quad News editors sayresistance from administrators has caused a lack of communication between thenewspaper and university officials, making the online journalists’ statusinsecure.

Without any support from the administration, the Quad News soughtsupport in a likely ally, the Society of Professional Journalists. Asadministrators have been openly hostile to the Quad News, interactionbetween the Quad News and SPJ led the administration to forward theirattack to the SPJ.

Quinnipiac Student Center Director Daniel W. Brown told the student chapterof SPJ that its status as a registered student organization on campus was indanger if SPJ continued interacting with the Quad News.

The threat came after the Quad News met in a room reserved for andby the SPJ. The national chapter of SPJ responded to Quinnipiac’s threatin a letter to Quinnipiac President John Lahey.

SPJ said it was concerned that administrators at Quinnipiac Universitythreatened to ban the SPJ. The letter emphasized that banning the SPJ would hurtthe university’s reputation in relation to First Amendment rights forstudents, faculty and staff.

Jaclyn Hirsch, president of the Quinnipiac SPJ, is also the managing editorfor the Quad News. She said that her organization promotes freedom of thepress and supports student journalists.

“In regards to the Quad News, SPJ supports them just as we doany other student group,” said Hirsch. “SPJ is an inclusiveorganization, which applauds the diversity of media outlets on campus.”

The Yale Daily News published an editorial with the headline “QUofficials deserve F.” The editorial listed Quinnipiac PresidentLahey’s number asking for students to “tell him what youthink.”

Lynn Bushnell, vice president of public * affairs released a memo inresponse to the Yale Daily News editorial.

“It soon became clear that the real intentions of the studentsinvolved in this online-only paper/ blog were decidedly hostile: theyaggressively sought to undermine the continued existence of aUniversity-supported newspaper for students,” said Bushnell in thememo.

The memo, sent to all Quinnipiac students in an e-mail, accused the QuadNews of trying to put the Chronicle, the official school newspaper,out of business and said that the university never violated the students FirstAmendment rights.

The Quad News responded the next day on its Web site. The responsedenied the university’s claim of trying to put the Chronicle out ofbusiness and highlighted that “the lack of dialogue on campus has led toserious misunderstandings.”

While the semester continues, Braff looks forward to publishing online– though not abandoning the idea of a print edition. The paper hopes thatthrough donations and online advertising it will raise the money needed toconsider a print publication.

The Yale Daily News, along with other publications aroundConnecticut, has been aggressively reporting on the Quad News.

Andrew Mangino, editor in chief of the Yale Daily News, said thatthe paper covers the surrounding community as well as universities in closeproximity because the Quad News issue is relevant to studentjournalists.

The Quad News formed after editors from the Chronicle decidedto part ways last year and start an independent news site covering QuinnipiacUniversity.

Bushnell declined to comment on the story beyond the contents of thememo.

CORRECTION, 11/14: An earlier version of this article said Bushnell was vice president of student affairs. The SPLC regrets the error. Return to story