• Lillie Burke

OPINION: We stand behind TSU and Delta State

1984 has arrived 31 years late.

In November 2014, Tennessee State University’s student publication ran coverage of a shooting that happened near the school and involved students.

Soon after, TSU’s administration began shutting down the information flow to the paper little by little, rendering it essentially useless.

But TSU isn’t the only college facing pressure from its administration.

Delta State University in Mississippi also faces the destruction of its newspaper and journalism program– as well as half of its humanities and athletic training programs– because the administration disagreed with the student newspaper.

Many students, most of whom aren’t even involved with the newspaper, will lose their scholarships and may have to transfer in order to pursue what they love. Professors’ jobs hang in the balance.

And worse, the freedom of the press is lost.

Censorship of student publications is nothing new and is certainly not a dead issue; high school publications were declared legally censorable in 1988, opening the door for censorship of college news outlets as well.

Today, those laws still stand, even though they shouldn’t.

Students often cite the First Amendment when faced with issues like dress codes or forming new clubs.

But the First Amendment protects student media too, and students should stand up to challenges to it.

The First Amendment should allow students to investigate and speak on issues that face their school and the surrounding areas, even if it is unpleasant.

TSU reported on an issue that administration wanted to keep private. But it was an issue that affected students, something that deserved their time and attention.

And perhaps even more shocking was passive-aggressive way that it was carried out: Unanswered emails, closed meetings and other avenues of silencing the news.

If this can happen right down the road, it would be a mistake to think that that we should not be concerned with this flagrant denial of students’ First Amendment rights.

At a school like Belmont, one built upon the idea of individual expression, we should be concerned. When an administration at any school oversteps its bounds to suppress one voice, all of our voices are threatened.

It doesn’t matter if you speak into a mic, through a pen or with a painting; the medium may differ, but the idea remains the same.

Our voices allow us to breathe life into our passions. Silence the voice, and the passion dies.

The music stops, the paint cracks and the ink runs dry.

The Vision stands behind the staffs at TSU and Delta State.

We support college press freedom for our fellow journalists and for ourselves.

We support college press for the future of journalism.

And we support college press for the rights of expressive students all over the country.

Opinions expressed in this editorial represent the majority view of the Belmont Vision editorial staff. If you would like to respond to this or any column, the Vision welcomes Letters to the Editor via our contact page.

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