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Independent Newspapers Crucial for Students in ‘Tense Times’

By December 22, 2016

It’s a time-honored tradition for college students to use independent newspapers to respond to pressing issues on campus and avoid top-down censorship from administrators. As The Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported in their piece, “In Tense Times, Black Students Find Ways to Tell Their Own Stories,” there has been a surge in publications run by black students in order to address racial issues and incidents on campuses nationwide. This growing number of publications includes DOWN Magazine at Yale University and The Black Hurricane at Purdue University.

By creating new on-campus publications in addition to utilizing already established ones, students are able to more thoroughly address alarming incidents on campus.

Stephanie Tate, current editor in chief of The Nubian Message at North Carolina State University, which was founded in 1992, was able to do just that when a white supremacist flyer was recently posted in the paper’s news stand. In a subsequent “letter from the editor,” Tate told her campus community:

I am not sorry that our journalism offends you. I will not apologize for our quality coverage of the diverse perspectives of our campus community. While we still have a long way to go, we make an effort to be intersectional and inclusive. If you cannot see that effort, I dare say you are the one being exclusive and hateful not ‘the media.’ We have stories to tell and we will continue doing so. If you have a problem with that, then so be it. However, it’s imperative that you know we are a part of a community and we won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Students should take a cue from Tate and other student-journalist leaders and write for an independent newspaper at their college or university, or even consider starting their own newspaper. Writing openly is an important use of students’ free speech rights and is an effective way to foster critical dialogue on campus—a mission that is more important now than ever before.

FIRE is always pleased to see students using independent publications to effect change and stand up for their rights. We encourage all student journalists—whether writing for a traditional student newspaper or an independent campus outlet—to learn more about student press rights and start making a difference on campus.

Schools: North Carolina State University – Raleigh