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 show support for the university’s policies-and, it seems, is expected not to criticize such policies in public.

In the last few months, the Quinnipiac Chronicle has debated severing ties with the university and becoming an independent publication.

This week, however, the Student Press Law Center reports that Quinnipiac administrators have changed the process for selecting subsequent editors. The Quinnipiac Chronicle’s faculty adviser and student affairs adviser used to choose the editor-in-chief and managing editors, who in turn would select the rest of the editors. Now, the dean of students will select the Chronicle’s editorial board. The editor-in-chief will be selected from a pool of students nominated by Quinnipiac’s deans, and the rest of the editors will be selected from a pool chosen by the outgoing editor in chief and managing editors.

The arrangement is ostensibly temporary, and the administration claims that in the future, the editor-in-chief will be allowed to select the other editors. But the intervention seems to demonstrate that the administration plans on keeping a tight leash on the paper to squelch inconvenient dissent. At any rate, the takeover was dire enough that current editor in chief Jason Braff and all the rest of the 20 applicants for editorial positions have withdrawn their applications for positions. They instead are planning to start a new Web publication independent of the Quinnipiac administration.

Remarking on her decision to leave the paper, Campus News Editor Jaclyn Hirsch said, “I wasn’t willing to put myself in a situation where I felt open and free journalism wasn’t the first priority.” At a modern liberal arts college, she shouldn’t have to.

Schools:  Quinnipiac University

Cases:  Quinnipiac University: Freedoms of Press and Association in Jeopardy