Board expresses displeasure at sex-themed content in Murray State News

KENTUCKY -- The Board of Regents at Murray State University voted Friday to express its dissatisfaction with the student newspaper's recent publication of a "Special SEXtion."

Although this vote made clear the Board's unhappiness with The Murray State News's decision, Murray State University Public Information Officer Catherine Sivills said there was no threat of a funding cut made to the newspaper.

"They chose a public venue to vent to each other about the disapproval of the content, which they have the right to do, just as the paper has the right to write [the articles]," Sivills said.

Board member Bill Adam's attention was brought to the SEXtion by a local business owner who was offended by the content, according to a May 11 article in the Murray Ledger & Times. Adams said he was not suggesting the newspaper's content be censored, but that the editors respect the university community, and respect that there are taxpayer dollars that fund the paper.

According to the Ledger & Times, the Board voted 6-2 to express disapproval of the content, with two members declining to vote.

The SEXtion, published on March 12, included an article about "sexting," an article called "Passion Party 101," and a large survey of students' sexual histories on topics like sexually transmitted diseases, number of partners, positions, masturbation, sexual assault and places on campus where people have had sex. It also included an article explaining the benefits offered by Murray State University Health Services.

"The reason why they voted to basically just say that they disapprove of the content, instead of voting in some other sense, is that they don't have power over the content," Sivills said.

Murray State University President Randy Dunn reminded Board members before the meeting of the rights of the students and the limits of the Board. The university does provide some funding to the newspaper, which also supports itself with advertising revenue, Sivills said.

"One of the Board members brought up that [the university does] fund [the newspaper], but I do think she quickly veered away from alluding to the fact that [this incident] would have anything to do with our continued funding of it. And our president did remind them that was treading on very thin ice with keeping the respect of freedom of speech," Sivills said.

Sivills, who said she does not speak on behalf of the Board, noticed at the meeting that the Board wanted to air its grievances, but also respected the newspaper's right to freedom of speech.

"What I interpreted is they respect the freedom of speech, they respect the fact that the paper has the right to express their views and opinions ... I think they did not want to cross that line."

Kentucky, Murray State University, news, The Murray State News