Weekly Media Round-up: Student Journalists Take the Reins at IUPUI

July 25, 2008

Following last week’s Associated Press-driven spike in coverage of student employee Keith John Sampson’s struggles at Indiana UniversityPurdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Indiana UniversitySouth Bend student Chuck Norton has continued his thorough and illuminating coverage of the incident in his IUSB Vision Weblog. Updates to Norton’s blog this week include a hard-hitting investigation of recently appointed Director of Equal Opportunity Kim Kirkland, whose troubles following due process in a case at Bowling Green State University should make the IUPUI community suspicious of her ability to deliver necessary reform.

In what should be a moment of tragicomic embarrassment for IUPUI, Norton has also posted a published letter Sampson wrote in 1999 defending the NAACP’s decision to boycott South Carolina for its display of the Confederate flag. Sampson’s case, lest Torch readers need be reminded, stems from being found guilty of racial harassment solely for reading a book with the words “Ku Klux Klan” in the title.

Throughout his coverage of the affair, Norton has prominently featured FIRE’s involvement in the case and sent a good deal of traffic to FIRE’s website, for which we are grateful. Norton’s relentless coverage of the IUPUI debacle serves as a reminder of the role the student press plays in exposing the gross injustices universities are willing to thrust upon them for their ostensible protection. (See also an article published this week in the Indiana Daily Student).

In other news this week, FIRE declared victory at Southwestern Community College after the college offered a settlement to Professor Steven C. Bitterman, who was fired from his position following complaints from students after remarking that the biblical story of Adam and Eve should not be taken literally. FIRE assisted Bitterman with the preparation of a letter of defense for his case, which was handled by the American Humanist Association.

Also this week, June Sheldon, a biologist at San José City College who was fired for bringing up alternative explanations of the nature/nurture debate with regards to sexual orientation, has filed a lawsuit against the college, with help from the Alliance Defense Fund and the Pacific Justice Institute. The complaint references a letter FIRE wrote to the San José/Evergreen Community College District back in February. FIRE is thankful for those organizations defending Bitterman’s and Sheldon’s academic freedoms.

Finally, a Naples Daily News editorial praises FIRE for the attention we have brought to the speech codes in effect at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), saying “[t]hanks, FIRE. Your input is extremely educational.” They are certainly welcome.

Schools:  San Jose City College Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis

Cases:  San José/Evergreen Community College District: Professor Fired for Protected Classroom Speech Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis: Student Employee Found Guilty of ‘Racial Harassment’ for Reading a Book