Quinnipiac University: Freedoms of Press and Association in Jeopardy

Category: Cases
Schools: Quinnipiac University

Quinnipiac University (QU) threatened a student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists with expulsion from campus if the group associated with The Quad News, an independent student newspaper formed in response to QU’s attacks on students’ press freedom. The trouble started when QU prohibited the student editors of The Quinnipiac Chronicle from publishing news online prior to the same news appearing in print. QU President John Lahey defended this prior restraint by saying he wanted to be able to read the news in print “before the external world hears about it.” After then-Chronicle editor-in-chief Jason Braff challenged the policy, Vice President for Public Affairs Lynn Bushnell stated that “student leaders, especially those in paid positions, are expected to generally be supportive of university policies.” When QU went so far as to take control over the selection of this year’s Chronicle staff in an effort to better control the paper, the paper’s editors and applicants abandoned the Chronicle and founded an independent online news source, The Quad News, which began publishing this semester.When students in QU’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and student members of The Quad News jointly participated in activities held on campus, Daniel W. Brown, Director of QU’s Student Center and Student Leadership Development, wrote to Jaclyn Hirsch, who is both SPJ president and managing editor of The Quad News saying that “any further interaction or endorsements with The QUAD News [sic] could result in the Quinnipiac University Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists losing its recognition status.” Although QU is a private university, they should still be expected to hold certain values in high regard, freedom of association being one of them.

  • FIRE criticizes QPac letter to SPJ chapter

    September 24, 2008

    Quinnipiac University Vice President for Public Affairs Lynn Bushnell may have spoken up two weeks ago about the student-journalism controversy that occurred on her campus. But a national group still wants more answers. College student First Amendment rights watchdog group Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sent a letter last week to Quinnipiac President John L. Lahey expressing that the group is “gravely concerned” that a letter sent from the administration to the school’s Society of Professional Journalists chapter represents a threat to students’ “freedom of speech and … association.” In the letter, sent two weeks ago to SPJ president […]

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  • FIRE’s Top 3 Free Press Cases

    January 31, 2013

    Over the years, FIRE has repeatedly gone to bat for student newspapers and student journalists faced with censorship. That censorship came in many forms, ranging from newspaper theft, reduced support from student activity funds, and the firing of faculty advisors, to prior review and editorial control of content. Since it’s Free Press Week, here, in no particular order, are three of the most egregious examples of free press violations from FIRE’s case archives. 1. Prior Restraint at Quinnipiac University Prior restraint was the censorship tool of choice for administrators at Quinnipiac University (QU) from 2007 through much of 2008. Back […]

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  • ‘Quinnipiac Chronicle’ Just As Free As ‘The Quad News’

    February 23, 2012

    On Tuesday, I wrote that The Quad News at Quinnipiac University (QU) has started printing physical copies of its once-online-only publication. The Quad News was born out of problems with the administration trying to stifle the speech of the student newspaper The Quinnipiac Chronicle. In an editorial yesterday, the Quinnipiac Chronicle recognized the new publication’s presence on campus and pointed out that it has not had any issues with the QU administration since the incident in 2008: Like The Quad News, the Chronicle has the right to free speech in its content and there is no censorship from any level […]

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  • A Free Press at Quinnipiac: ‘The Quad News’ to Begin Printing

    February 21, 2012

    An online-only newspaper for nearly four years, Quinnipiac University (QU)’s The Quad News has begun printing physical copies as of today.  The Quad News was created in 2008 in response to the QU administration cracking down on press freedom within the established student newspaper, The Quinnipiac Chronicle. At the time, the QU administration prohibited The Quinnipiac Chronicle from posting its articles online before they had been printed, citing concerns about wanting to review the content “before the external world hears about it.” The dispute escalated, resulting in the QU administration hand-picking Chronicle staffers. In response, the then-editorial staff abandoned the […]

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  • FIRE’s Will Creeley to Speak at Quinnipiac University Tonight

    November 18, 2009

    The Young Americans for Liberty at Quinnipiac University will host a lecture by Will Creeley, FIRE’s Director of Legal and Public Advocacy, tonight at 6:45 p.m. in the Grand Courtroom. In addition to discussing speech codes on campus and Quinnipiac’s “red light” rating, Will will discuss the importance of a free student press and the problems Quinnipiac has had in the past with its student newspaper. Last year, the university threatened student organizations that associated with The Quad News, an independent student paper formed by former editors of the official school paper who resigned over an administrative takeover, with expulsion. The […]

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  • Quinnipiac President Thinks Free Speech Violation Not a First Amendment Problem

    December 18, 2008

    The Quad News reports that at a question and answer session with the Student Government Association (SGA), Quinnipiac University (QU) President John Lahey denied that his censorship of The Chronicle, the QU student newspaper, violated the First Amendment. Lahey’s right. Technically, it’s not a First Amendment problem, since QU is a private school, but it was definitely a major free speech problem and an embarrassment to the institution. Let’s reexamine that case briefly. At a previous student government meeting, Lahey complained that Quinnipiac’s student media were breaking stories on their website, which then were picked up by outside media sources. […]

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  • ‘The Quad News’ Controversy and the Corporatization of Quinnipiac University

    November 11, 2008

    What does the ongoing dispute between The Quad News and the Quinnipiac University (QU) administration have to do with the construction of a new, $52 million sports facility on campus? More than you might think, suggests Andrew Bartholomew in The Yale Daily News. Bartholomew’s thoughtful article (“Fast Times at QPac”) depicts QU as a university flush with money and a surge in applications. Bartholomew notes that QU’s current freshman class is the largest in its history, and that QU’s enrollment has doubled since current president John Lahey began in 1987. But as his experience writing the article shows, QU’s rise […]

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  • Student Newspapers Stand Up for ‘The Quad News’

    November 3, 2008

    Torch readers by now are well aware of the troubling state of student rights at Quinnipiac University (QU), particularly in light of the administration’s treatment of the newly formed Quad News, an independent, online student publication. The Quad News formed this summer after a series of controls on the press imposed by QU led to the exodus of the staff of the QU-controlled Quinnipiac Chronicle. Once QU threatened to punish the campus chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) for merely interacting with The Quad News, first FIRE and then The New York Times and the Associated Press weighed […]

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  • Greg in ‘The Huffington Post’ on ‘A Tale of Two Universities’

    October 31, 2008

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff has a new post at The Huffington Post comparing FIRE’s recent cases at the University of Oklahoma and Quinnipiac University. Greg begins his comparison by mentioning our recent victory at the University of Oklahoma, where the college president recently rescinded a campus-wide ban on political emails. Greg explains that “it is rare that one sees a college president flatly and publicly reverse him or herself” which is why “President Boren should be commended for clarifying this murky policy.” But as Greg is quick to mention, the positive development at OU stands in sharp contrast to the […]

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  • A Tale of Two Universities

    October 31, 2008

    Earlier this month, I posted about the crazy trend on college campus to ban political speech by students and faculty during this exciting election cycle. Since the fall semester kicked off, colleges across the country have banned everything from window signs to bumper stickers, squelching all political expression on campus in a misguided attempt to protect their school’s non-profit status. One of the worst examples of this kind of blanket censorship occurred at the University of Oklahoma (“OU”), where students were informed by the administration that they could not use their college e-mail addresses to forward “political humor/commentary.” Obviously, OU’s […]

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  • ‘New York Times’ Criticizes Quinnipiac University’s Treatment of Student Press

    October 29, 2008

    Echoing FIRE’s press release, the editorial board of The New York Times criticizes Quinnipiac University’s treatment of its student press on its pages today. The whole editorial is well worth your time, but here’s a worthy excerpt: First, the university tried to stonewall student attempts to report stories by imposing a gag order on administrators, coaches and athletes. Then last month, the institution, in writing, threatened to ban from campus the student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, a nationwide media advocacy group of working journalists that includes about 200 student chapters. Apparently the university became irate when an […]

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  • Quinnipiac University Threatens Student Group with Expulsion for Associating with Off-Campus Newspaper

    October 29, 2008

    Today’s FIRE press release summarizes the poor state of freedom of the press at Quinnipiac University (QU), which threatened its student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists with expulsion from campus if the group associates with The Quad News, an independent student newspaper formed in response to QU’s attacks on students’ press freedom, which we have covered several times before. The ordeal for the QU student press began in spring 2007, when QU prohibited the student editors of The Quinnipiac Chronicle from publishing news online prior to the same news appearing in print. QU President John Lahey defended this […]

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  • Quinnipiac University Threatens Student Group for Associating with Off-Campus Newspaper

    October 29, 2008

    NEW HAVEN, Conn., October 29, 2008—Quinnipiac University (QU) has threatened a student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists with expulsion from campus if the group associates with The Quad News, an independent student newspaper formed in response to QU’s attacks on students’ press freedom. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is calling on the university, known for its political polling operation, to either permit freedom of association on campus or publicly declare that it no longer guarantees basic student rights. “After driving last year’s editors of the primary student newspaper off campus, QU has declared the students’ […]

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  • Quinnipiac University Newspaper Editors Go Independent

    August 27, 2008

    Last academic year’s struggle between the editorial staff of the university-controlled Quinnipiac Chronicle and the Quinnipiac University (QU) administration has birthed a new independent paper, The Quad News. Once Chronicle editor-in-chief Jason Braff and his editorial staff announced their plans to form an independent, online publication, all twenty QU students who had applied for editorial posts at the Chronicle withdrew their applications. The conflict began in September 2007 when Braff, in response to a racially charged incident on campus, sought permission to publish a web exclusive on the incident since the Chronicle had not yet started printing for the fall […]

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  • At Quinnipiac, Editors of Student Paper Resign Over Administration’s Takeover

    May 7, 2008

    Over the winter we reported on a rash of press censorship at universities across the country. One of the most troubling incidents occurred at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. As we stated at the time: Quinnipiac University, for its part, has defended its restrictive policy of preventing the Quinnipiac Chronicle from publishing any new stories or updates on its web site until a new print issue appears. Moreover, Quinnipiac has threatened the student editor with discipline or even termination for publicly challenging the policy-since, the university’s spokesperson says, the editor is an employee of the school and therefore is expected to […]

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  • Quinnipiac U. editors leave en masse to start independent Web outlet

    May 2, 2008

    The returning editor in chief, other returning editors and new applicants for editorial positions at Quinnipiac University’s student newspaper withdrew their applications en masse over the past week in protest of a new selection process that will allow the dean of students to select The Chronicle‘s editorial board. Jason Braff, who had planned to reapply as editor in chief for next year, said he received 20 applications for editorial positions by the original April 7 deadline but was told by administrators to hold off on the normal selection process. In the past, the faculty adviser and student affairs adviser selected […]

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  • Free the Press in 2008

    December 31, 2007

    Freedom of the press remains endangered on U.S. college campuses. Even at public universities, where the school acts in the name of the government, student newspapers and their editors often face disciplinary action for exercising their constitutional rights. Two recent cases that come to mind arose at Colorado State University (CSU) and Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). In The Rocky Mountain Collegian at CSU, a staff editorial used an expletive in very large print. The editor-in-chief faced disciplinary action but, after FIREand his attorney intervened, the editor-in-chief received only an admonishment. Like almost all such cases, there should not even […]

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  • Student newspapers react to media policies

    December 5, 2007

    At the start of the spring 2007 semester the Quinnipiac University administration instittuted a policy restricting The Chronicle Web site from being updated at any given time. The policy stated that www.quchronicle.com can only be updated simultaneously with the hard copy. Later in 2007 another policy issued by the university’s Office of Public Affairs stated that members of the administration are required to instruct any member of the media, including the university’s student media, looking for an interview to send their questions to Lynn Bushnell, the vice president for public affairs, or John Morgan, the associate vice president for public […]

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  • Free speech, press battle at Quinnipiac U

    December 1, 2007

    The editor of The Chronicle at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut is locked in a battle with university administrators over student journalists’ First Amendment rights, according to an article in Sunday’s edition of The New York Times. Jason Braff, the 20-year-old editor of The Chronicle, has said the university administration threatened to fire him after he criticized a university policy in an interview with The Waterbury Republican American in late October. Braff was quoted in the Oct. 30 article as saying the university’s policy prohibiting the student newspaper from posting articles on its Web site before running them in print was […]

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  • Lahey: Student media hinders progress

    October 24, 2007

    President John Lahey expressed his displeasure with the current state of journalism last Wednesday at the Student Government Association (SGA) meeting. Lahey specifically mentioned his discontent with how outside media sources pick up stories from student media, especially The Chronicle. “So I guess the challenge for us now is how in today’s world we can really have a good discussion with the students about important topics, but not have it be a press conference to the world, where I have absolutely no control,” Lahey said. “I am less worried with personal liabilities and more with institutional liabilities. When the president […]

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