FIRE blames newspaper’s ad refusal on school’s ‘culture of fear’

September 23, 2009

A free speech group blames "a culture of fear" at Bucknell University for the student newspaper's refusal to run an ad criticizing the university.

Bucknellian Editor-in-Chief Lenore Flower informed the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) in early September that the paper would not be running the organization's ad because of libel concerns.

Adam Kissel, director of FIRE's Individual Rights Defense Program, dismissed the editor-in-chief's claim that the ad was potentially libelous, saying its claims were clearly the opinion of his organization.

"If third parties cannot even criticize the university in an ad in the student newspaper, free speech is in dire straits at Bucknell," Kissel said.

Flower called FIRE's assertion "absolutely absurd," and said she thought the advertisement was inappropriate and would reflect poorly on the newspaper. She said she advised FIRE to change the wording or to write a letter to the editor, a format she said was more appropriate for opinionated content...