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Southern Methodist pulls opinion piece about the school from newspaper’s orientation issue

June 10, 2011

The Student Press Law Center reports that Southern Methodist University officials have censored a student column from the orientation issue of SMU’s student newspaper, under an agreement similar to that between The Vermont Cynic and The University of Vermont.

The Daily Campus column, ordered removed by SMU Dean of Student Life Lisa Webb, was to address a lack of transparency on the school’s board of trustees, the center reports.

According to SPLC:

  • Student journalists made a verbal agreement in 2007 that allowed university officials prior review for the orientation issue so that the university would allow The Daily Campus to distribute the issue to incoming students.
  • This is the first time that SMU officials have exercised their right to remove content from the paper in exchange for that access.
  • The SPLC has determined that university officials acted within their rights given the verbal agreement. However, Student journalists say that they would like to revisit that agreement because they did not attend SMU when it was made.
  • After mailing the SMU-approved paper to incoming first-year students, Daily Campus editors decided to publish the column online; the online version quickly became the top-rated post on the newspaper’s website.

UVM and The Cynic made a similar verbal agreement in 2007. The agreement has been renewed each year since.

Cynic editors have said that they understand that UVM could censor material in the orientation issue; however, the university has never tried to edit student content or ask for prior review of content in the orientation issue.

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