Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech Threatens Student Newspaper’s Future over Protected Anonymous Comments on Its Own Website

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

In February 2010, Virginia Tech’s Commission on Student Affairs (CSA) threatened the future of its independent student newspaper, the Collegiate Times, because the newspaper allowed “irresponsible and inappropriate” comments to be posted anonymously on its website. The Commission on Student Affairs posited that allowing anonymous comments “counter[s] the Principles of Community,” and threatened to violate Virginia Tech’s contract by unilaterally ending financial support of the Collegiate Times, as well as threatening to disallow student organization funding for advertisements in the newspaper. After FIRE, the Student Press Law Center, and the ACLU of Virginia criticized these threats–and the Educational Media Company at Virginia Tech, the parent company of the Collegiate Times, responded vehemently–a Virginia Tech spokesman distanced the university from CSA’s threats, saying that CSA’s position was “not the position of the administration.”