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The Wesleyan Argus and unwarranted censorship of a college newspaper

The Wesleyan Argus and unwarranted censorship of a college newspaper

October 29
02:26 2015

The Editorial Board

On Sept. 14, a student at Wesleyan University in Connecticut wrote an editorial raising concerns about the legitimacy of the group Black Lives Matter. The student writer went on to state his understanding of the frustrations of “moderates” within the group who felt they were being labeled as radical due to the actions of a few but could not support the organization if it continued to vilify police across the country.

Since the article’s publication, a firestorm of backlash has reared its head with students calling for a boycott of the Wesleyan Argus, the student publication which ran the article. On Oct. 18, the Wesleyan student government voted 27-0 to cut the funding of the paper by at least 50 percent, with four members abstaining.

This is troubling on many levels. The blatant censorship, as well as the Argus’ lack of financial independence, has the founding fathers rolling in their graves.

It may be that it’s complicated for some to understand that editorials, whether written by Wesleyan’s Bryan Stascavage or yours truly, are the chance to voice an opinion. They are the opportunity to raise questions and spark conversations. The best part? You don’t have to agree with it.

This past summer, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee held a hearing sorting college campuses into three different threat levels in regards to free speech: red, yellow and green. Wesleyan University, unsurprisingly, received the worst rating of red, meaning they are at highest risk of unconstitutional censorship. While this is unfortunate, UNT made the same list.

No matter how tough it is to swallow, the tougher questions should not warrant panic or second thought inside a newsroom. The First Amendment of our Constitution ensures all people the right to free speech, and the opinions of Mr. Statscavage, no matter what they may be, fall into that category. The moment we refuse to ask ugly questions is the moment we begin to lose our liberties as individuals. Sure, prior restraint is a thing, but for a campus publication voicing its honest opinion, what is there to restrain?

To quote Thomas Jefferson: “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

Featured Image: A screenshot of the Wesleyan Argus student newspaper website introducing the “Black Lives Matter” editorial. The piece sparked outrage from students and campus representatives. Courtesy | The Wesleyan Argus

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