MICHIGAN — A week after the student newspaper adviser at Northern Michigan University was terminated, the Associated Collegiate Press and the College Media Association have joined the list of organizations calling for her reinstatement.
“Colleges and universities need to foster an open environment where student media outlets are free from interference, even from publication boards,” CMA President Rachele Kanigel said in a statement on Friday. “There are many ways to bully student media and removing an adviser is simply that: bullying.”
On April 3, The North Wind Board of Directors voted 5-3 not to renew Adviser Cheryl Reed’s annual contract, ending her one-year stint as the newspaper’s adviser. The board also voted 5-4 against hiring Managing Editor Michael Williams as the paper’s next editor in chief, even though he was the only applicant.
In a statement on Thursday, ACP Executive Director Diana Mitsu Klos said the university community “has been ill-served by the embarrassing actions of the board.” The Society of Professional Journalists released a similar statement on Thursday, arguing the newspaper’s board of directors violated Reed’s First Amendment rights.
Reed, an English professor at the university, said she suspects her termination was retaliation for her support of student reporters’ investigative stories, many of which were critical of the administration.
On Thursday, The North Wind reported that Vice President Steve Neiheisel, a member of the board, met with student members of the board in January and told them the newspaper’s open records requests were “a waste of time and money” and spoke critically of Reed.
Along with the story, the newspaper ran a front-page photo illustration with the words “First Amendment, Dead.”