On Feb. 27 The Lariat, Baylor University’s student newspaper, started a firestorm when its editorial board came out in support of gay marriage. The Baylor administration, which maintains ultimate control over The Lariat’s editorial content, reproached the paper’s editorial board, claiming its position was in conflict with the university’s religious values. And while Baylor, the nation’s largest Baptist-affiliated university, has the right to feel The Lariat’s position conflicts with its religious beliefs, it should not actively censor and condemn free press.
Censorship has no place on college campuses. The entire theory behind higher education centers on individuals being exposed to and actively debating controversial issues. This important intellectual step is seriously inhibited when a university restricts the ability of the campus newspaper to contribute to the process.
The problem The Lariat and many other college newspapers across the country face is that because a significant amount of the revenue they need to publish comes from their respective universities, the university administrations are ultimately allowed to restrict what they publish. Most colleges work out an arrangement by which the student newspaper is permitted some autonomy because those university administrations respect the fundamental concept of freedom of the press. Unfortunately, it appears Baylor University does not.
This page is fortunate enough to be able to report and editorialize freely because The Hatchet is an independent publication. And while this page recognizes that going independent is not a realistic possibility for a vast majority of campus newspapers, universities must strive to ensure that they enable student-journalists to think freely and exercise freedom of the press.