Johns Hopkins University Denies Students Freedom of the Press

June 13, 2006

As today’s press release describes, freedom of the press is in serious jeopardy at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). Last month, The Carrollton Record (TCR) published an issue that criticized a recent campus appearance by pornographic film producer Chi Chi LaRue. TCR’s cover page pictured LaRue surrounded by members of the Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance (DSAGA), which sponsored the event. This cover photo apparently angered some students, and a harassment complaint against TCR staffers has been filed with JHU’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Programs.

Within 24 hours of distribution, the 600 copies of the paper that had been placed in the library were missing. Instead of treating the missing papers as a theft and an act of mob censorship—as Maryland law prescribes—JHU administrators denied TCR’s right to be distributed in dorms by invoking the posting policy, which refers explicitly to posters hung in dorms. JHU counsel told FIRE that “by long standing practice the Office of Residential Life has applied the [posting] policy to student publications.”

This policy is not only being inappropriately applied to TCR, but it is being selectively enforced. A student’s pictures of a newspaper distribution rack shows copies of the liberal student publication the Hopkins Donkey available in the Wolman Hall dorm as late as May 20—almost a week after TCR’s distribution rights were denied. FIRE will continue to protest Johns Hopkins’ myriad misdeeds until The Carrollton Record is restored to the full and equal rights that other student publications enjoy.

Schools:  Johns Hopkins University