Advisers in brief

Federal district court issues preliminary injunction; orders college to reinstate newspaper adviser

NEW JERSEY — A federal district court issued a preliminary injunction in late June that will reinstate a student newspaper adviser who was removed for what students claim was retaliation for stories they printed.

Three editors at the Ocean County College student newspaper, the Viking News, filed a lawsuit in May against college President Jon Larson and several other administrators after the school removed longtime newspaper adviser Karen Bosley. The lawsuit alleges that Bosley’s removal was the result of retaliation for several stories the newspaper wrote critical of the school’s administration. The preliminary injunction is a decision that will allow Bosley to continue to advise the Viking News while the lawsuit is underway. Bosley has filed a similar, separate lawsuit.

In his opinion, Judge Stanley R. Chesler wrote that the school’s decision to remove Bosley had violated the students’ First Amendment rights. 

Chesler wrote that the facts supported the students’ claim that Bosley’s removal was based on content and “that such a retaliatory removal would ... have an impermissibly chilling effect on the paper’s student editors’ freedom of expression in future issues of the paper, and inflict irreparable harm on the plaintiffs.” 

Popular adviser asked to leave after paper prints article on bus assault

NORTH CAROLINA — A man students called an “adviser extraordinaire” has been asked to stop volunteering with the student newspaper at Smith Middle School by administrators that some suspect are still upset over an article the paper printed.

In March, The Cyclone Scoop ran a story naming several students charged with assaulting a school bus driver. Administrators confiscated the issue claiming it violated the school’s student confidentiality rules, according to an article in The News and Observer, a community newspaper based in Raleigh. 

Chris Roush, a journalism professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, had served as volunteer adviser for the student newspaper since 2004 and said he felt his dismissal was related to the confrontation over the article.

“I was told through [Becky] Burke, the journalism teacher, that [Principal Valerie Reinhart] didn’t want anyone from UNC involved with the paper,” Roush said. “What it boils down to is that the principal wants control of the paper, she wants to approve the stories in the issues going forth.”

Stephanie Knott, a spokesperson for Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools, said the basis for terminating the relationship between the middle school and UNC had to do with content control.

Knott said the school cut ties with UNC because the school is ultimately responsible for what is printed in the student newspaper, not UNC, and those lines might have been blurred by the relationship. 

Adviser says college will not renew his contract for standing up for student press

ILLINOIS — Harper College in Palatine did not renew student newspaper adviser Dann Gire’s contract after it expired in June, and Gire said he thinks he knows why.

“Every year that I didn’t have a run-in with the vice president, I was re-appointed faculty adviser,” said Gire, who has been advising The Harbinger student newspaper since 2000. “The year I did have one, I’m fired four months later. Coincidence?”

After a fall semester that included the publication of a photograph from a Muslim art exhibit of a woman’s exposed breast and ensuing protests of the exhibit and the paper’s coverage, Gire said Harper administrators decided to set some new guidelines for The Harbinger in February.

A copy of the guidelines, provided by Gire, mandates among other things that The Harbinger editor in chief “observe common standards of decency,” and “work closely with the Student Activities staff ... using their experience and advice” to improve the journalistic quality of the paper.

Gire said he feared the new policy might expose the college to greater legal liability. Administrators demanded that the paper’s editor in chief sign a contract comprised of the new guidelines, he said.

Gire said he is currently weighing his options, although “they are few.”

Phil Burdick, a spokesman for the college, said the task to find a new adviser is up to the college’s student life committee. 

Fall 2006, Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ocean County College, reports