Last week, a New York Times editorial brought to light a student journalism controversy at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. All the top editors at the university-sponsored student paper, The Quinnipiac Chronicle, left the publication last year over conflicts with the administration and formed the Quad News, an independent news site.
The administration responded by prohibiting many university employees from communicating with the Quad News. They also threatened to ban the campus chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for supporting the site.
Quinnipiac University’s actions were objectionable and this page stands with the New York Times in calling for Quinnipiac to retract its unfounded threat against the SPJ chapter. At the same time, Quinnipiac should not be suppressing student journalism efforts on campus.
According to the Boston Globe, Quinnipiac officials are willing to work with the Chronicle on gaining independence from the university. If that is the case, then there is no reason to prevent the Quad News from working independently on the same campus. Editors of both the Chronicle and the Quad News said the two publications get along, and the university should not try to stifle a healthy sense of competition.
Heavy-handed gestures like gag orders and threatening letters do not prevent students from trying to get the news, and the actions reflect poorly on the university.
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. GW has a number of student-run, independent Web sites and blogs, and The Hatchet became independent in 1993 with University approval.
The bottom line is that Quinnipiac should not be trying to restrain the operations of the Quad News or threaten Quinnipiac’s Society of Professional Journalists. They should welcome an independent news medium and the journalistic competition it will bring to campus and officially retract the letter threatening the SPJ.