Wednesday, June 01, 2011

College of DuPage Removes Student Newspaper Adviser

The College of DuPage continues its dubious record of silencing free speech and academic freedom. The Courier newspaper at COD reports that journalism professor Cathy Stablein, who has been the adviser to the Courier since 1987, has been removed from her position effective June 1. The administration claims that it removed Stablein from her job so that she could focus on restructuring the journalism program. Courier editors report that they have not been consulted about any of these decision.
In a letter to the administration, current editor-in-chief Nick Davison and former editor-in-chief Vikaas Shanker praised Stablein's work in helping the Courier consistently win journalism awards as the leading community college newspaper in the state of Illinois. They also praise her for never censoring the newspaper and allowing the voice of students to be heard. Shanker has started a petition to reinstate the Courier adviser.

I've previously written about the attempts by the College of DuPage administration and trustees to silence free speech on campus. In 2008, the DuPage administration and trustees tried to impose a new policy requiring, “All College-sponsored or authorized student publications must operate in a professional manner and are expected to follow the standards of professional journalism....The College President will be responsible for overseeing student publications.” The administration backed down from this proposal, but it reflects the mindset of the current president.

In my book, Patriotic Correctness: Academic Freedom and Its Enemies, I note how student newspaper advisers have one of the most vulnerable jobs on campus, and are often fired for refusing to censor student newspapers. The College of DuPage needs to reconsider this rash decision to remove an adviser for no good reason.

UPDATE: The Daily Herald reports on the case and adds this interesting detail:
The episode isn’t the first time College of DuPage President Robert Breuder has been at the helm when issues arose involving the student press. In 2006, when Breuder was president of Harper College in Palatine, Daily Herald film critic Dann Gire’s contract as faculty adviser to the student newspaper was not renewed. At the time, Gire said college administrators wanted to impose new guidelines on the paper that would have restricted what was published, and he refused to sign off on those rules.

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