University's president had no justification for
confiscating a recent edition of the school
newspaper. The sorry episode was a blatant
violation of the First Amendment.
the dumbest ó and scariest ó move made by a
university administrator in Virginia
all you wannabes, this one is not even close.
Nobody else is in the running.)
Universityís acting president JoAnn Haysbertís
Gestapo-like confiscation of the student-run
newspaper because the paper didnít do something
she wanted wins, hands down.
was the offense? The
student journalists ran a letter she had written on
page three, rather than on the front page, as she
the AP: ďThe
Wednesday issue of the Script tackled a sensitive
topic ó the cleanup of the school cafeteria after
more than 100 health violations ó and would have
reached parents and alumni in town for the
universityís homecoming week festivities.
In her letter, Haysbert criticized media
coverage and explained how the school took steps to
correct the sanitary violations.Ē
what did this acting president of a Virginia
university do? She
had the newspapers gathered up and destroyed.
go, JoAnn! How
dare them? Why
didnít you just call up your Thought Police and
your Speech Police and have them all lined up and
appointed Assistant Acting God, and willing to
dispense with that little thing called the First
Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America
can do that, you know.)
I know the counter arguments here.
Iíve read the court cases.
Iíve followed them all my life.
University-sponsored student presses are not
really "free" in the First Amendment
That kind of thinking ebbs and flows with
different court appointments.
sure, I know tax dollars go to universities, and
student fees are more or less coerced, and all that.
I know all of those arguments and, but for the
blessed existence of one sweet document, they are
the arbiter to my mind is, and must be, and evermore
shall be, that clear, direct language of the
Constitution itself. It
JoAnn, that I would expect that you would have ever
read it. Iím
pretty sure than anyone who would send subordinates
around to confiscate and destroy bundles of
newspapers has, in fact, not read it.
But you should have.
Youíre not running a cab fleet here,
youíre running a university, for crying out loud!)
home of the new Scripps Howard School of Journalism
and Communication, and a ten-year, $10 million
underwriting pledge by the Scripps Howard
Foundation, if bereft of real leadership in the
Presidentís Office, does have a lot going for it.
Chris Campbell, director of the journalism
school, stood up for the kids, as well he should
according to the Associated Press, so did Richard
Prince, a student mentor, and editor of www.blackcollegewire.org,
an online resource where black colleges share and
distribute news stories.
ďItís positively outrageous,Ē Prince
said. And he
was right about that.
He was so, so right.
more than anything, what
has going for it is kids like Talia Buford, the
student editor. I
donít know Buford. Iíve
never had the pleasure of an introduction.
But I know this.
Iíd put Talia Buford up against any kid in America.
know I couldnít have slept if we had changed
it,Ē Buford said.
the thing, Talia: Neither
could have a real university president.
November 3, 2003