The freedom of the collegiate press is in jeopardy.
On Tuesday, a federal appeals court in Chicago heard arguments in the Hosty v. Carter case, in which school officials at Governors State University in Illinois are pitted against three student journalists.
In 2001, Innovator editor Jeni Porche, managing editor Margaret Hosty and writer Steven Barba sued the university following an October 2000 incident, in which Patricia Carter, former dean of student affairs, ordered the printer not to publish any issues without administrative approval.
The students allege that administrators violated the First Amendment in an attempt to exercise prior restraint over the school’s newspaper, the Innovator.
The university’s latest defense is that administrators should be given the right to review the newspaper before publication to correct frequent grammatical and spelling errors.
If the appeals court sides with the university, college free press rights in the Midwest will be under fire — and free speech could be next.
The Supreme Court’s landmark 1988 Hazelwood decision, which severely limits the press freedoms of high school students, does not currently apply to college students. This case will determine whether these restrictions can be extended to college media.
They should not. The implications are frightening to college journalists and should be frightening to readers.
If universities win the right to control collegiate press content, everything seen in the college media might have to be approved, sanitized or censored in some way by the very administration often criticized in these publications.
At the collegiate level, academic freedom is paramount and where minds should be expanding, this would be restrictive to the very essence of academic and personal freedom.
University Wire — Ball State U.