For immediate release: Oct. 22, 2020
For more information: Diana Mitsu Klos, firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-728-7267
For excellence in examining how allegations of sexual assault among students were handled on campus – sparked by a criminal case against a then-college trustee charged with sexually assaulting a student, The Linfield Review, at Linfield University, is the recipient of the Student Press Law Center’s 2019 Reveille Seven College Press Freedom Award.
Over a period of five months, The Linfield Review, based in McMinnville, Oregon, investigated and published the testimony of eight students who said they were subject to sexual harassment or assault by their peers, and alledged that the college mishandled their cases or failed to protect them. The reporting began after a now-former trustee was charged with sexually assaulting a student representative during a trustee dinner in February 2019. The student sued him and the college.
“The annual award recognizes the excellence and courage of a college news organization that speaks truth to power and demonstrates unwavering support for college press freedom,” said Hadar Harris, executive director of the Student Press Law Center. “We commend The Linfield Review and former Editor-in-Chief Alex Jensen, and colleagues Camille Botello and Elin Johnson, whose leadership and tenacity, along with journalistic skill and care in handling sensitive matters, shined a light on the sexual misconduct and exposed serious inadequacies with the way in which the school handled such incidents.”
Some university officials declined to cooperate or asked that the coverage be stalled, while others wrongly cited the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act as an excuse not to respond to questions.
The Linfield Review’s intrepid work resulted in the university president addressing the community on the topic of sexual assault, and a group of faculty signed a letter of solidarity with the the students who had been assaulted.
Jensen said these kinds of investigations are a reminder of the value of strong college journalism. “We hope this will inspire other student journalists to persist. Chase hard news, even if your administration seeks to censor or gaslight you. Journalism matters. Student journalism matters. And these important stories need to be told,” she said.
The award is jointly sponsored by the Student Press Law Center, the Associated Collegiate Press and Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication.
The Manship School funds the $2,000 prize in memory of a group of courageous LSU editors (“The Reveille Seven”) who were expelled in 1934 for publishing criticism of Louisiana Gov. Huey Long. The young journalists were later cleared of wrongdoing and vindicated.
We extend our condolences to the family, friends, students and colleagues of Martin Johnson, dean of the Manship School, who died unexpectedly on Sept. 28 at age 50.
The Student Press Law Center (splc.org, @splc) is an independent, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit working at the intersection of law, journalism and education to support, promote and defend the rights of student journalists and their advisers at the high school and college levels. Based in Washington, D.C., the Student Press Law Center provides information, training and legal assistance at no charge to student journalists and the educators who work with them.