Records hold lifted for Daily Utah Chronicle's senior staff

UTAH -- The student journalists from The Daily Utah Chronicle who had holds placed on their transcripts and diplomas a result of a senior prank in the newspaper have had the holds lifted and will receive their diplomas.

On April 28, the senior staff at University of Utah's student newspaper used drop cap letters to spell out

"penis" and "cunt" in their farewell columns, continuing a longstanding staff tradition of using the drop cap letters to spell out vulgar words in senior columns. The university determined that the students were in violation of the university's Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

But after required meetings with the associate dean of students, the nine staff members have been cleared of all charges. The students received an e-mail on May 21 stating that they were found not in violation of the student conduct code.

Rachel Hanson, editor-in-chief of The Chronicle at the time and a participant in the prank, said she felt that her meeting with the dean helped to convince the university that the newspaper staff had not intended to cause controversy.

"I pointed out that we hadn't heard anything about the prank for a week until the administration saw it and decided to take action," Hanson said. "It was a good lesson for us as journalists and for the administration as well to see that they can't just try to squelch our First Amendment rights without having some sort of pushback."

Looking back, Hanson said she might have "treaded more carefully," but that she cannot speak for future editors as to whether the prank will be continued.

The university did not return multiple calls for comment by press time.

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