What will they think of next?

By Gus Bode

If the final decision in the Governors State University case goes to university officials, the entire process of college newspapers will be destroyed.

For a college administrator to review and approve every piece of material to be published would be a travesty. It will change the information being given to the public and how. Most importantly, it will show students they have no say in the matter of what is published, which hurts free speech.

Think about it. If a paper were censored by a university official, stories about misconduct within the university would not be printed. Better yet, think about it as if it were happening here on the campus of SIUC.

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During periods of negotiations between the University and faculty, the Daily Egyptian wrote stories almost everyday about what was going on, focusing on both sides of the table. If a University official were granted permission to preview all material, those stories would have had a slim chance of being published; or, if they did make it to print, the information may have had to be changed to show the University administrators as the good guys in the fight.

Not only would that have crippled the reporters, but it would have crippled the readership because they would have been receiving skewed information and not the whole story so they would be able to make a positive decision for themselves.

There is a difference between high school and college newspapers and the students employed. In high school, the newspapers are funded by either student fees or from money allocated through the yearly budget. But no matter how the papers are funded, the most important thing is that high school students need to be advised on some issues to be published, because they are at an age when their judgment might not be fully developed to handle a situation.

On the other hand, college students are more mature and able to make decisions on what is appropriate to be published. No matter how the paper is funded, college students are on a different level than high school students and don’t need as much supervision.

College papers provide a service to students and community residents alike. There is a responsibility to these groups to give them accurate, unbiased information, and if someone is appointed by the university to review that information, that responsibility will not be met.

The court that has reopened the case should think of college papers as being on a higher level and as a step below professional papers and not as a step above high school papers.

If the final decision is in favor of the university reviewing material, what will be next? A decision like that could be the first step in censorship of other things – such as television and radio stations or even theatrical plays or films – just because a group does not like the way it is being presented.

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Freedom of press means the paper has full and open range to present the information it wants to the public. If that is taken away, then what will be the point of printing a paper at all?

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