Home / Spring 2014 / 2014-02-20 / Prior review silences students

Prior review silences students

Help us fight the good fight.

At colleges across the country, students can voice their beliefs, sentiments and musings through independent student newspapers that are free from censorship by the administration. But such liberty is not found everywhere.

At Atlanta Metropolitan State College, an editor has reached out to her peers for assistance after experiencing ongoing treatment that is unsettling.  That unsettling experience is called prior review.

This editor reports that her college is requiring her newspaper staff to submit each and every issue of their paper to a special committee for pre-publication review. The paper can only be printed after the committee has made changes and approved a final copy.

“The committee claims they are just checking for grammatical errors, but I already turn my paper into my advisors for this,” the editor said in an email to fellow editors of college newspapers in Georgia. “I am pretty sure they are attempting to censor our student publication with their actions.”

This oppressive conduct is unacceptable. The process of prior review makes it easy for a college administration to heavily influence the content of a student newspaper, making it more of a propaganda outlet rather than a reliable news source.

The actions of AMSC officials are also illegal.

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press to all citizens, including college students. Courts have ruled that student newspapers at public colleges have the right to be free from censorship, including prior review.

A student newspaper cannot operate effectively if it is hindered by a college administration that seeks to promote its own interests and protect its image.

The Spectator is a vital representative of VSU students, ensuring they are informed about their world and have a chance to change their society through written expression. We also act as a watchdog to those in power, exposing abuse and injustice when it occurs.

The Student Press Law Center works to help young journalists succeed and has created a set of media guidelines that safeguards the rights of student newspapers, which is basically a rephrasing of a law already in effect.

President McKinney has not yet signed these guidelines, attributing the delay to small language tweaks that need to be made to the guidelines. However, McKinney said he is on the side of student journalists and plans to approve the guidelines soon.

Students must fight to preserve their rights instead of assuming those in authority will always play by the rules.

Students can play their part by engaging with The Spectator, alerting us to news and giving us personal opinions on significant issues. A newspaper that is free to report accurate, unbiased information is a great benefit to all of VSU.

Remember, when we’re free, you’re free.

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