OREGON — The Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit Sept. 30against Oregon State University on behalf of the school’s unofficialstudent paper, The Liberty, seeking to reverse the school’s removalof newspaper distribution bins from campus.
The suit is the first legal action seeking redress for the removal of theindependent student newspaper’s bins last June, which was done becauseschool officials said they were trying to “clean up campus.”Employees for The Liberty said bins for the school’s officialstudent paper, The Daily Barometer were left untouched.
School officials have said The Daily Barometer, as the officialnewspaper of the school, is the only paper allowed to have its bins all overcampus. Other papers like The Liberty are allowed to put their bins onlyin certain locations.
“The Liberty and the students really just want to be treatedequally,” said David Hacker, the American Defense Fund attorney working onthe case. “They want to put their bins back on campus and be treatedequally with The Daily Barometer.“
The lawsuit seeks an injunction prohibiting the university from removingThe Liberty’s distribution bins from campus.
Once the complaint is served, the school will have 20 days to respond,after which the case could go to trial.
Todd Simmons, the director of news and communications services for OregonState, said the treatment of The Liberty is not as biased as thatpaper’s staff makes it seem. He said at the same time The Libertyhad its bins removed, a number of other papers did as well.
“The Liberty is still perfectly free to distribute oncampus,” Simmons said. “Like all other others that seek to bedistributed here, they can be distributed through other means, other than thebins.”Simmons refused to comment about how the university wouldrespond to the lawsuit.
Will Rogers, executive editor for The Liberty, said the bins removedfrom campus were donated to the paper.
Rogers said he is concerned about the special treatment given to TheDaily Barometer despite the fact both papers are produced on campus,exclusively by students.
“The fact of the matter is the school is basically telling TheLiberty its speech isn’t as worthy as other publications oncampus,” Hacker said. “The university can’t be operating undersome sort of completely unbridled and vague policy that allows it to dictatewhen and where students can speak on campus. That’s extremely chilling tostudent speech, and it violates the First Amendment.”
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