On Thursday, May 1, students at Fond du Lac High School held a sit-in to protest the censorship of the student newspaper by the administration.
This censorship violates two parts of the First Amendment: freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
When the high school newspaper, The Cardinal Columns, published an article that exposed the school’s culture of minimizing the trauma and effects of rape, the administration created a new guideline. From now on, all contents of the paper would have to be reviewed prior to publishing.
The article that prompted the censorship contained accounts of students who told their stories of rape and considered the difficulties that they face in society where the matter is often made humorous by tasteless jokes and taunting. In this way, the victims cannot heal from the trauma. The article alludes to a central point about rape in our culture.
“People aren’t taught not to rape, but are taught not to be raped.” In addition, the article provided resources for victims of sexual abuse.The next issue was held from printing for a month until administrators were satisfied with the content.
Journalists, whether high school students or adults, have the right to report on topics of importance. The article was well-written, thoroughly researched and thought-provoking. We are dismayed by the unjust decision by these administrators, particularly because one of our own staff members attended school there.
As a private university, Mount Mary is to be commended because it grants First Amendment rights to the Arches staff. Private schools do not have to do this. We have printed articles that have challenged school policies and even own administration. We have done so because we want to make the university a better place.
The administration has never asked for prior review of our newspaper. We take pride in the fact that this is not just a luxury, but a right at Mount Mary University.
When administrators exert unnecessary restraints onto the work of journalists, the quality of their work is not only diminished, but the educational process suffers. We think the article covering the rape culture at Fond du Lac High School was exceptional. We hope that much of our work is exceptional, also.
As college-level journalists, we sometimes make mistakes in our coverage of stories. Yet, we work to improve our reporting because we, as well as our administration, understand that the learning process is a journey. We thank our administration for granting us the right to fulfill this process.