The Inkwell Editorial Board
Freedom of the press is a fundamental American freedom and human right that is under continuous threat. There’s no place that this right should be more valued and protected than our colleges and universities right here in the United States.
These institutions are dedicated to educating students and are advertised as places where ideas can compete. However, this cannot happen properly when faculty members or students fear punishment for sharing information/ views that might be disfavored by university administrators or the public.
As previously stated, the first amendment is under continuous threat at many campuses in America, as it is often pushed aside to avoid controversy or discomfort. It is common of administrators (and powerful people in general) to want to control the story. This is especially unacceptable as we see a rise in sexual assaults and other safety concerns at schools today.
In fact, these cases are made worse when institutions try to cover up the situation and do not cooperate with the media.
Freedom of Information Laws are in place for journalists. These are often referred to as the “Sunshine Laws” chiefly because they require agencies and entities, especially government ones (including state universities) to be forthcoming about open documents and meetings that are public record, therefore “shining light” on them.
Within the realm of confidentiality, is the duty of administrators to provide available information regardless of the individual or organization’s social status.
Students in these organizations, wittingly or not, are becoming opponents of free speech by demanding protections. The possibility of wounded reputations is not a reason for the organization to receive special protection and is certainly not a reason for the university to ignore the press.
When officials try to censor speech at a public community college — i.e., a government entity — the First Amendment is violated and trust with the governed is broken. It is precisely during these times that the rules need to be scrutinized with great skepticism.
In many cases, college and university officials give the “misunderstanding” excuse when caught censoring students or faculty. It is a student newspaper’s duty to question what policies are actually in place and make sure that these misunderstandings are resolved.
Regardless of whether censorship is disguised as an“office practice,” or something else, it is unconstitutional. Colleges and universities must stop pretending that the first amendment does not apply on campuses.