Colorado State U. Newspaper May Finally Gain Independence

By on April 17, 2008

Much has happened since we last reported on the case of the controversial editorial printed earlier this academic year by Colorado State University’s Rocky Mountain Collegian. In that case, the editors published an editorial reading “Taser this…FUCK Bush”, fully within the paper’s editorial and ethical guidelines. The paper’s editor, J. David McSwane, was threatened with punishment and had to sit through a hearing process, but he was merely admonished.

In November, we reported more victories for free speech at CSU. The interim president of CSU’s Board of Student Communications resigned after, as The Coloradoan reported, “withdrawing a controversial proposal that would have made it easier for the BSC to discipline the Collegian’s editor over what the paper prints.” And the Board told McSwane he would be retained as editor through May “without condition.”

But in January, ominous reports surfaced about secret efforts by CSU to give up its over 100-year-old paper to a for-profit entity. In March, CSU opened up the idea of selling off the paper to a competitive process. As of the afternoon of the deadline for potential buyers, no buyers had come forward. Finally, only one proposal came infrom the group that already runs the paper.”

Yesterday, The Coloradoan reported that the proposal calls for re-establishing the Collegian under a fully independent nonprofit corporation. According to the proposal, “The corporation’s major goal should be to protect students’ First Amendment rights.”

Interestingly, according to The Coloradoan,

Student Media director Jeff Browne declined a request from the Coloradoan to photograph students working at the Collegian or student television station.

He said the student managers were “inundated” with media following the editorial’s publication and the subsequent censure of the Collegian’s editor, J. David McSwane, and that until things settle down, no professional media members are permitted past the front doors of Student Media.

FIRE continues to follow the case.

Update:see more about the CSU case here. Also, a competing report has come in, stating that the one proposal actually was submitted by Jeff Browne, Director of Student Media, which has an advisory role but does not “run the paper.”

Schools: Colorado State University Cases: Colorado State University: Student Editor on Trial for Protected Speech