Investigation of Equinox goes to 'pot'





NEW HAMPSHIRE — University officials at Keene State College have ended an investigation against the campus newspaper, The Equinox, after suspecting that members of its staff helped organize a pro-marijuana rally.

The investigation prompted the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union to jump to the defense of the newspaper. ACLU attorney Jon Meyer said the organization wrote a letter voicing concern about the university’s investigation and possible violations of the students’ First Amendment rights.

“The issues we were concerned with were not just freedom of the press, but also freedom of association,” Meyer said. “We wanted to focus the university on the individual liberties issue before the investigation was finished.”

According to a memorandum sent to the newspaper’s adviser from Campus Safety Director Vernon Baisden, university police received information that “…members of The Equinox staff were either directly responsible, instigated, initiated or conspired to disrupt the peace” with the April 20 rally.

A former editor for The Equinox believes, however, that the university police were merely using the investigation to put a burden on the staff after it had been working to open campus police logs for a campus crime section of the newspaper. University police were previously only releasing heavily edited crime reports.

“I think they were angry about the things that have happened in the past with pending freedom of information lawsuits,” said former editor Joel Kastner.

Kastner said nothing official ever came of their complaint to university police, and the investigation of the staff merely put off any results.

University Director of Campus Safety Vernon Baisden did not return the Report’s phone calls.


Fall 1997, reports