For Immediate Release
Neil Ralston, SPJ Vice President, Campus Chapter Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Scott Leadingham, SPJ Communications Coordinator, email@example.com,
INDIANAPOLIS – After Quinnipiac University threatened to revoke the status of the campus’ Society of Professional Journalists chapter for supporting a new student-run publication, SPJ leaders sent a letter to university president John L. Lahey expressing its grave concern over the proposed action.
On Monday, Quinnipiac Student Center Director Daniel W. Brown informed the school’s SPJ campus chapter that it was in danger of losing its status as a student organization if the chapter’s members continued to interact with the Quad News, an independent student-run publication. The Quad News, an online publication, started in opposition to administration attempts to control content of the Quinnipiac Chronicle. Several student editors left the Chronicle and started the Quad News. The president of the student SPJ chapter being threatened, Jaclyn Hirsch, is also the managing editor at the Quad News.
Text from the letter sent by SPJ to Lahey follows:
Dear President Lahey:
The Society of Professional Journalists is extremely concerned that administrators at Quinnipiac University have threatened to ban the University’s student SPJ chapter if its members interact with or endorse the online student newspaper, the Quad News.
While we understand that Quinnipiac is a private university and that administrators have broad powers to control activities on campus, we hope that you will realize that banning a student organization for actions that are not only legal but well-intentioned would send a message across the country that the University leadership does not support the principles of free speech, free press and free association that are outlined in the First Amendment.
Furthermore, banning the Quinnipiac SPJ chapter also would signal all other student organizations on campus that the University is ready and willing to kick them out if they merely associate with anyone who has fallen out of favor with administrators.
We do not believe these are the messages you intend to send. Colleges and universities in America are not only centers for learning but centers for freedom where students, faculty and others can speak openly about virtually anything. Quinnipiac should ensure that it shares this essential and valued tradition of academic freedom. We urge you to publicly reverse your threat to punish the student chapter of SPJ. We urge you to take no action that would further sully your reputation in relation to full First Amendment rights for students, faculty and staff at QU.
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.