UTAH — The student journalists from TheDaily Utah Chronicle who had holds placed on their transcripts and diplomasa result of a senior prank in the newspaper have had the holds lifted and willreceive their diplomas.
On April 28, the senior staff at Universityof Utah’s student newspaper used drop cap letters to spell out
“penis” and “cunt” in their farewell columns, continuinga longstanding staff tradition of using the drop cap letters to spell out vulgarwords in senior columns. The university determined that the students were inviolation of the university’s Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
But after required meetings with theassociate dean of students, the nine staff members have been cleared of allcharges. The students received an e-mail on May 21 stating that they were foundnot in violation of the student conduct code.
Rachel Hanson, editor-in-chief of TheChronicle at the time and a participant in the prank, said she feltthat her meeting with the dean helped to convince the university that thenewspaper staff had not intended to cause controversy.
“I pointed out that we hadn’theard anything about the prank for a week until the administration saw it anddecided to take action,” Hanson said. “It was a good lesson for usas journalists and for the administration as well to see that they can’tjust try to squelch our First Amendment rights without having some sort ofpushback.”
Looking back, Hanson said she might have”treaded more carefully,” but that she cannot speak for futureeditors as to whether the prank will be continued.
The university did not return multiple callsfor comment by press time.