KENTUCKY — The Board of Regents atMurray State University voted Friday to express its dissatisfaction with thestudent newspaper’s recent publication of a “Special SEXtion.”
Although this vote made clear the Board’s unhappiness with TheMurray State News’s decision, Murray State University PublicInformation Officer Catherine Sivills said there was no threat of a funding cutmade to the newspaper.
“They chose a public venue to vent to each other about thedisapproval of the content, which they have the right to do, just as the paperhas the right to write [the articles],” Sivills said.
Board member Bill Adam’s attention was brought to the SEXtion by alocal business owner who was offended by the content, according to a May 11article in the Murray Ledger & Times. Adams said he was notsuggesting the newspaper’s content be censored, but that the editorsrespect the university community, and respect that there are taxpayer dollarsthat fund the paper.
According to the Ledger & Times, the Board voted 6-2 to expressdisapproval of the content, with two members declining to vote.
The SEXtion, published on March 12, included an article about”sexting,” an article called “Passion Party 101,” and alarge survey of students’ sexual histories on topics like sexuallytransmitted diseases, number of partners, positions, masturbation, sexualassault and places on campus where people have had sex. It also included anarticle explaining the benefits offered by Murray State University HealthServices.
“The reason why they voted to basically just say that theydisapprove of the content, instead of voting in some other sense, is that theydon’t have power over the content,” Sivills said.
Murray State University President Randy Dunn reminded Board members beforethe meeting of the rights of the students and the limits of the Board. Theuniversity does provide some funding to the newspaper, which also supportsitself with advertising revenue, Sivills said.
“One of the Board members brought up that [the university does] fund[the newspaper], but I do think she quickly veered away from alluding to thefact that [this incident] would have anything to do with our continued fundingof it. And our president did remind them that was treading on very thin ice withkeeping the respect of freedom of speech,” Sivills said.
Sivills, who said she does not speak on behalf of the Board, noticed atthe meeting that the Board wanted to air its grievances, but also respected thenewspaper’s right to freedom of speech.
“What I interpreted is they respect the freedom of speech, theyrespect the fact that the paper has the right to express their views andopinions … I think they did not want to cross that line.”