Missouri State University: Investigation of Student Paper for Editorial Cartoon

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Missouri State University

At Missouri State University (then called Southwest Missouri State University), administrators investigated a faculty advisor, Professor Wanda Brandon, and student editor, Mandy Phillips of its campus newspaper, The Standard, for publishing an editorial cartoon that a Native American group found “offensive.” Jana Estergard of SMSU’s Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) contacted Professor Brandon to request a meeting about a complaint regarding The Standard. The complaint absurdly alleged that The Standard had violated a religious freedom law, a civil rights act, and university policy, all simply by publishing a cartoon. Professor Brandon refused an OEO proposal of “mediation” to settle the issue and contacted FIRE, who wrote the school arguing that punishing the newspaper staff was a clear violation of their rights to freedom of speech and press. A day later, SMSU’s general counsel replied, insisting that “Dr. Brandon has not been subjected to an investigation.” He claimed, “the issue is education, not free speech.”

Currently there are no Case Materials at this time.
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