College students confront censorship

Auburn University in Alabama are fighting a proposal to make the journalism department part of the school's communications department. Some faculty members believe that the proposed merger is a reprisal by the school's board of trustees, who want to punish the department, and by extension, the student newspaper, for articles and editorials the Auburn Plainsman has published over the past two years criticizing the trustees.

Administrators dispute that idea, calling the proposal a way to save money and streamline the department.

The dean of students at the College of Lake County in Antioch, Ill., halted the printing of the student newspaper in March after editors refused to allow her to edit the issue for spelling and grammatical errors. One day prior to the incident, the dean had informed the editors of The Chronicle that unless she was allowed to edit the next issue, she would call the printer and halt publication.

State University of New York at Buffalo police took the editor and the two managing editors of the school's student newspaper, The Spectrum, into custody in March for trespassing in the student union. The editors did not leave their office, which is located in the union, until 15 minutes after the building closed because they were working on their next issue. The incident was the most recent in a string of battles between administrators at the university and editors of the student newspaper over the midnight closing time of the building. Spectrum editors argue that the hours of the student union inhibit their ability to produce the thrice-weekly newspaper.

After the federal Office for Protection from Research Risks halted new enrollments in ongoing research trials involving human subjects at Virginia Commonwealth University because of concerns over supervision and documentation, school officials told students in the communications department that the ban on "human subject research" applied to any research involving human subjects, including interviews.

Communications students and faculty said they were told in February that they had to request departmental approval before they could conduct interviews for news stories. But several days later, the top research official at the university said communications students were exempt from the ban, and students conducting interviews for journalism, advertising or public relations classes would not be affected.

The student community government at Rhode Island College cut the editor of the student newspaper's stipend for the month of November in half after the newspaper refused to publish an apology for a spoof issue that some on campus found offensive. According to Alex Franco, managing editor of The Anchor, student government officials agreed to return the editor's stipend in full, but then announced plans to cut the newspaper's printing budget in half.

reports, Spring 2000