Above the Law?

Inside Higher Ed:

Student newspaper advisers are something of an endangered species
these days. They often get caught in the middle when administrators and
student journalists clash over content, and in more than a few cases on college campuses
in recent years, advisers — sometimes faculty members with tenure or
tenurelike protections, but often vulnerable staff members — have found
themselves losing their jobs. (High school newspaper advisers are even
more vulnerable.)

“All you have to do is look around the country to see how many
conflicts there are,” said Mark Goodman, the Knight Chair of Scholastic
Journalism at Kent State University and former executive director of
the Student Press Law Center. “This has really gained steam.”

It was with several recent such controversies in mind, and numerous
instances of censorship at high schools in California, that the state’s
Legislature overwhelmingly approved legislation this month that would
prohibit a college or school district from firing, suspending or
otherwise retaliating against an employee for acting to protect a
student’s free speech. Last week, with the measure, SB 1370,
sailing for passage and a trip to the governor’s office for Arnold
Schwarzenegger’s hoped-for signature, the University of California
quietly revealed its opposition to the bill.

In a letter to State Sen. Leland Yee, the legislation’s sponsor,
a lobbyist for the university system “respectfully” warned Yee that the
university did not expect to abide by the requirement if it was
enacted.

Although the First Amendment doesn’t apply to Seton Hill because we are a private institution, I’m happy to work under an administration that upholds the principle of academic freedom.