College gives up demand to censor student newspaper articles

By Bob Unruh


Officials at Ashland University have abandoned their demand to review and censor student newspaper articles before publication.

WND had reported only days earlier on work by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression to reverse the college’s course.

The organization explained that officials at Ashland University recently dismissed Ted Daniels, a longtime and beloved adviser to the student newspaper, The Collegian, from his responsibilities, and then almost immediately demanded articles be submitted to the administration for review before publication.

The organization wrote to the school, and said, “If Ashland wants to be known as an institution where students learn ‘How to Think, not What to Think,’ it must allow The Collegian to publish without prior review, and must publicly reassure its community that it will respect press and academic freedom going forward,” the foundation explained in its report on the dispute.

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Now, the FIRE has confirmed that Ashland officials said they no longer would require prior review for the newspaper’s publication, and they also said they support the paper’s right to press freedom.

“In a letter to the editor published by The Collegian, two Ashland administrators at the center of its recent free speech controversies wrote that they ‘support’ the student newspaper ‘as a forum for open communication.’ The phrase ‘forum for open communication’ is used in First Amendment precedent to identify spaces in which individuals have broad expressive freedom. When a student publication is so designated, it indicates that student journalists should expect to have free press rights commensurate with journalists at a professional publication,” the FIRE reported.

The school officials also claimed they are “committed to the principles of academic freedom and value the resulting dialogue.”

In communications with FIRE, the school said it would not require even a new adviser to review content before it’s published.

“The university’s initial actions implicated not just The Collegian’s independence, but also the academic freedom of Ashland faculty. Because criticism from multiple administrators about Daniels’ pedagogy surrounded his nonrenewal — including in the official notice of his dismissal, in which a university official labeled his ‘perspectives on the field of journalism’ as ‘problematic for Ashland’ — the ouster created questions about whether other faculty could face penalties for their teaching,” the FIRE reported.

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