American University: Student Journalists Limited from Speaking With University Employees


American University

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

On September 22, 2022, AU administrators told student journalists at The Eagle they must fill out a form to request to interview university employees, including administrators and some faculty, instead of contacting employees directly. In September 2021, Housing and Residence Life staff instructed the department’s student employees not to speak with the press, and students at The Eagle report this instruction remains in effect. On December 19, FIRE wrote AU explaining these practices violate the university’s own commitments to the free press and expressive rights of its community. AU responded January 9, 2023, declining to change the form requirement and failing to address the restrictions on Housing and Residence Life student employees. FIRE wrote AU again January 24, asking AU to ensure both that student journalists and university staff do not have to use the form and that Housing and Residence Life employees are free to speak to the press. AU responded again February 9 clarifying that the form was optional and that Housing and Residence Life employees may speak to the press without prior permission.