SOUTH CAROLINA — A South Carolina student newspaper inOrangeburg was pulled from the presses this week over an advertisement a schooladministrator deemed unfit for print.
The upcoming Monday issue of South Carolina State University’s weeklystudent newspaper, the Collegian, was set to include an advertisement foradult-themed “slumber parties,” which the ad indicates are for women18 and older. The ad’s graphic depicts a man and a woman hugging.
Upon seeing the proofs, SC State Director of University Relations EricaPrioleau called the adviser, Rolondo Davis* to stop production of both the newspaper and thecampus magazine, which was also slated to print the ad.
Collegian editor-in-chief Dervedia Thomas today agreed to pull theadvertisement after talking to Prioleau*, as partof an agreement that she and university officials would work to establish moreconcrete guidelines about advertising content.
“This is not to say I am going to have ads approved by her,”Thomas said. “And she is not demanding that kind of position. We agreed tosit down and discuss guidelines for the future.”
According to Thomas, Prioleau’s original complaint against theadvertisement was that “it was not in keeping with the image they weretrying to present of the university.”
Thomas said she understands Prioleau’s reservations about the ad, butshe “didn’t like the fact that printing was suspended without myknowing what was going to happen.”
According to Mike Hiestand, legal consultant for the Student Press LawCenter, Prioleau’s concern over the ad’s potentially poor reflectionon the university does not permit her to suspend publication of the paper.
“A college student newspaper is not an extension of the universitypublic relations department,” Hiestand said. “While I can’t for thelife of me understand how such a tame ad would provoke the administrativeresponse it did, that’s irrelevant. What is relevant, however, is that the lawmakes clear it was a decision for the student editorial staff to make, not theuniversity PR director.”
Prior to this morning’s meeting, Prioleau contacted theuniversity’s general counsel for advice on their rights, and Thomascontacted the Student Press Law Center for the same.
Thomas said she hopes the conversations she and the college agreed topursue will prevent a situation like this from happening again.
“I can only hope SC State officials have learned something from thisas I don’t think the Collegian staff will be so forgiving nexttime,” Hiestand said.
Prioleau and legal counsel for SC State did not return calls for comment asof press time.
CORRECTION, 3/10: An earlier version of this article said Prioleau called the printer to stop publishing the newspaper and that Thomas spoke with the university counsel. The SPLC regrets the errors. Return to story