FLORIDA — After being fired did not stop newspaper adviser Michael Koretzky from working with his students, Florida Atlantic University is pressuring student newspaper editors not to permit Koretzky to to work without pay.
Koretzky was fired last month and since then has continued to work with the University Press newspaper staff on the summer issues as a volunteer adviser. But on Wednesday, UP editor-in-chief Karla Bowsher said she was warned that if she continued to recognize Koretzky as a volunteer adviser to the paper, she will be breaking university policy.
As breaking a university policy can lead to student conduct charges, Bowsher called the warning against working with Koretzky as an adviser — either on or off campus — “a nice administratively veiled threat.” Kristine Gobbo, university spokeswoman, said FAU doesn’t discuss student conduct issues.
The administration’s contention is that Bowsher is an employee of the university, and all employees are subject to university policies. Bowsher said university policy states that advisers must be employees, and therefore by asking Koretzkyto be a volunteer, she is breaking policy.
FAU Director of Student Media Marti Harvey delivered the message to Bowsher, citing FAU attorney Audra Lazarus as the source. When Bowsher calledLazarus for clarification, she refused to comment.
“That’s a really forceful message, so I didn’t want to take it from the messenger,” Bowsher said. “I wanted to make sure I understood what they were saying, so I went right to the lawyer it originatedfrom, and oddly she did not want to comment.”
Koretzky said he does not dispute the fact that Harvey is the official adviser, but that university policy does not stipulate that there only be oneadviser for a student group. After consulting with a Student Press Law Center attorney, he said that if the university chooses to interpret the rules this way, he believes they will be running afoul of the Constitution.
“What is most significant about all of this is that suddenly, this is no longer about me — it’s now about the students,” Koretzky said. “I told the editors when this started, that they [FAU] weren’t going to stop me, and that when they figured that out, they would come after [them].”
President of the College Media Advisers, Sally Renaud, said that the organization’s adviser advocacy committee is looking into the situation atFAU.
“CMA is investigating this and wants to do its best to negotiate a resolution,” Renaud said. “We really always want a resolution thatpreserves the student press and lets the students keep working and keeps the advisers working as well.”
Bowsher remains undaunted by the university’s warning, though the student conduct board she would be brought before has the authority to expel her from the university. The next issue of UP comes out on Tuesday, and Bowsher plans to keep Koretzky listed in the newspaper staff box as the adviser.
“As long as he’s serving in that capacity, I can at least give him the credit for that,” she said. “They’re willing tothreaten me with actions they can’t legally take as a measure of intimidation — to intimidate me into not speaking to Koretzky. It’sshameful.”