Editors resign over censorship disputes
University of Texas papers struggle with new prior review policies
TEXAS — The warning bells first went off when the communications department at the University of Texas-Pan American announced it was taking the student newspaper, The Pan-American, under its wing to get journalism students more involved. Then adviser Joyce Prock was replaced, new editorial policies were imposed and the personnel budget was cut. Still, the student staff hung on.
Finally, when the newspaper’s new adviser pulled a story from the Feb. 6 issue and replaced it with an advertisement, editor in chief David Waltz and other editors decided that enough was enough and resigned in protest.
Stringent student newspaper regulations imposed on schools in the University of Texas system, which include provisions for administrative prior review, have been at the core of the battle. A university attorney has argued that college newspapers should be subject to the same restrictions as those at high schools.
After Prock’s replacement, a power struggle ensued between Waltz and new adviser Bob Rollins, the head of the school’s print journalism program.
Rollins said he is not going to censor the paper — and regrets the Feb. 6 incident, which he claims was due to miscommunication — but says that he will not accept a passive role as adviser.
“I feel no matter what I do to maintain student control of The Pan-American, my efforts will be in vain,” Waltz wrote in his resignation letter in February. “Next year, a new staff with a new editor will come in and Mr. Rollins will have the influence over the staff he needs to fill a newspaper with what he deems newsworthy.”
reports, Spring 1997