College Media Association is concerned by the removal of Jim Compton from his advising role at Muscatine Community College in Iowa. Our Adviser Advocacy Chairman Chris Evans has been investigating the situation, and students fromThe Calumet student newspaper have filed a lawsuit against various administrators alleging their actions have violated the students’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
“Compton has provided me with a wealth of information indicating that college administrators removed him as an act of retaliation for content in the student newspaper, The Calumet,” Evans said. “If so, this could be the most egregious and best‐documented of cases that I’ve seen as adviser advocate.”
The CMA board of directors has asked Evans to reach out to Muscatine Community College administrators to provide guidance and to help resolve the situation.
The students allege in their lawsuit that the college administration has:
- shown a pattern of disregard of the students’ First Amendment rights
- demanded prior review and approval of the paper,
- filed an EEO claim merely to harass the newspaper, its staff and its adviser. (The Student Press Law Center wrote about this issue in 2013. http://bit.ly/1JqQ47L )
- replaced Compton with an adjunct professor in retaliation for newspaper content.
CMA will continue to investigate on Compton’s behalf as part of the Adviser Advocacy program
The CMA Code of Ethical Behavior states: “Student media must be free from all forms of external interference designed to regulate its content, including … arbitrary removal of staff members or faculty; or threats to the existence of student publications or broadcast outlets.”
“Students engage in student media to learn skills while making a difference on their campuses,” said CMA President Rachele Kanigel. “In order to do that successfully, they need to have the support of the administration, rather than intimidation. All student media should be free from interference.”
CMA believes that the freedoms of the First Amendment foster an educational community.
“This implies the obligation of the student media to provide a forum for the expression of opinion – not only those opinions differing from established university or administrative policy, but those at odds with the media staff beliefs or opinions as well,” the CMA Code states.
College Media Association represents more than 700 college media advisers, and their students, throughout the country and supports a free and robust student press.