Haskell Indian Nations University rescinds unconstitutional directives to student editor in response to joint letter by SPLC, FIRE, NAJA

Haskell Indian Nations University leadership has rescinded an unconstitutional directive forbidding student newspaper editor Jared Nally from engaging in basic newsgathering activity. This comes as a response* to a letter (see below) issued by the Student Press Law Center, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the Native American Journalists Association calling on HINU President Ronald Graham to stop intimidating student journalists and interfering with the work of the student newspaper, the Indian Leader.  

President Graham stated that he took the “incorrect approach” when he issued the directives to Nally and committed to not interfere with the work of the Leader. This admission of wrongdoing and commitment to not infringe on the Leader’s operations is a great step on the part of the university and a victory for student free press.   

SPLC remains dedicated to protecting and defending student journalists, including ensuring that this unconstitutional behavior on the part of the university is not repeated. 

*Due to an “administrative error” on the part of the university, the notification of President Graham’s rescission was not sent for nearly 3 months after the SPLC, FIRE and NAJA joint letter.   

SPLC, FIRE and NAJA penned and sent the joint letter in October 2020, demanding that Haskell Indian Nations University President Ronald Graham rescind the unconstitutional threats toward the editor of the student newspaper.  

Along with other “directives,” Graham forbade the student newspaper editor from interviewing government agencies and from “attack[ing]” any student, faculty, or staff member by criticizing them. Our letter informs the president that these directives are in direct contradiction to students’ First Amendment rights as well as a 1989 settlement agreement between the university and the student newspaper.