College removes student online newspaper


Site does not fit image of school that administrators want, says college official





PENNSYLVANIA — School officials at Muhlenberg College pulled the college newspaper from the school Web server in March after the online newspaper published articles critical of the school.

“It is our feeling that [the administration] didn’t like the paper online because it was bad public relations for the Web site,” Brian Kela, former associate editor for the Muhlenberg Weekly said in the April 21 issue of The Brown and White, the student newspaper at Lehigh University.

The newspaper went online September 1997 after a university librarian asked the newspaper if it would like an online edition posted, said Louis Alloro, editor of the Muhlenberg Weekly.

Carol Shiner Wilson, dean of academic life, said that was a mistake and the newspaper should have gone through the university information technology committee.

“It wasn’t that the school asked them to go online. They had inadvertently got online. They had not gone through the information committee about conformity of format and how the school is represented,” Shiner Wilson said.

Alloro said the newspaper had been online for the entire school year, and no one had said anything until the newspaper began writing articles critical of the school.

“It’s ridiculous. We never asked them to put us on the Web. It was their idea, which was great. It was very ironic that they chose to [take us off the Web site] now,” Alloro said.

Michael Bruckner, vice president of university public relations, who serves on the information technology committee, said the newspaper was not helping the college fulfill its goal with the Web site.

“The Web is definitely a public relations marketing tool, and we don’t want to control the Weekly,” Bruckner said. “It was certainly not malicious or to discourage the Weekly for sure.”

Kela and a former editor in chief of the Muhlenberg Weekly, Larry Carney, told The Brown and White that they do not consider the action a violation of their free press rights because the university controls the Web site.

However, in a 1981 case, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that private schools could not restrict free expression on campus because of protections in the state constitution.

Alloro said the newspaper plans to move to a private Web site.


Fall 1998, Muhlenberg College, Pennsylvania, reports