Torch readers by now are well aware of the troubling state of student rights at Quinnipiac University (QU), particularly in light of the administration’s treatment of the newly formed Quad News, an independent, online student publication. The Quad News formed this summer after a series of controls on the press imposed by QU led to the exodus of the staff of the QU-controlled Quinnipiac Chronicle. Once QU threatened to punish the campus chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) for merely interacting with The Quad News, first FIRE and then The New York Times and the Associated Press weighed in.
Perhaps most encouraging among the press generated by the controversy (and there is no shortage of that) is the unified voice with which the student press nationwide has shown solidarity with the student press at Quinnipiac. Three new editorials from the last couple of days testify to this, appearing in The New Hampshire of the University of New Hampshire, The Dartmouth of Dartmouth College, and The GW Hatchet of George Washington University.
As The Hatchet recognizes, "Independent student journalism is a vital part of campus discourse, and student publications should be able to criticize the university without fear of repercussion or censorship." The Dartmouth agrees, noting that "Student leaders—journalists or otherwise—should take a critical stance toward university policies when appropriate, acting as advocates for the student body and using their clout to influence the policies in ways most beneficial to the entire university community." And it is particularly inexcusable, as The New Hampshire points out, that such severe limits on these abilities were ever in place at a university with such a highly regarded journalism department.
These journalists are all too aware of not just the threat that QU’s administration poses to the student press, but also the threat that unscrupulous administrations pose to student journalists and publications in general. Quinnipiac should take a lesson from the seemingly unanimous outrage of the world beyond QU and accept that a university’s relationship with its student press is not supposed to be all bread and roses. As The New Hampshire concludes, "if somebody isn’t getting upset, you aren’t doing your job."