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Don’t muffle the student press

            Sometimes you have to step-out from the behind-the-scenes and make headlines rather than write them.

Last week came with the news that a fellow student-run, college newspaper had lost the majority of their editorial staff in a protest for Freedom of the Press—an Amendment “The Spectator” takes seriously. “The Red and Black” at UGA is run by student-journalists, as is “The Spectator,” and has a board of advisers to oversee production and funding.

Like the advisors here at “The Spectator” who are willing to give advice and direct us when needed, UGA’s editorial advisers are obligated and honored with the same duties to their newspaper staff. When an advisor at UGA sent out a memo saying they would have complete control over what is written and published in “The Red and Black,” the Editor-in-Chief, Polina Marinova, walked out in protest. Soon to follow were other top members of the newspaper’s editorial staff.

            As an independent publication, neither administration nor advisers have the right to censor what “The Spectator” publishes, nor are they granted prior review of what is put into the paper. Our advisers, Dr. Ted Geltner, Dr. Pat Miller and Mr. Keith Warburg are all willing to give advice and direction when we are lost –after all, we are still learning—all before our paper paper hits the stands at 6 a.m. However, should a note land on an editor’s desk from one of our advisors declaring a mandate on what we can and cannot publish, VSU should be warned a similar protest could be in “The Spectator’s” future. Our advisers, who taught us to take freedom of speech and freedom of the press as seriously as we do, would not overstep those boundaries.

            Though we may seem insane to other members of the student body for working on a paper for seven hours straight on Wednesday nights, only to go to bed around 1 a.m., this is what we love to do. We stand by “The Spectator” and we are constantly working hard to give our student body a legitimate voice by the students and for the students. More stress and sweat goes into the production of the paper than anything else on those late nights, but for some of us, we have been with “The Spectator” for so long, we hardly know anything else.

            We want to provide VSU with the best possible source for news, entertainment and sports. We especially want to inspire upcoming journalism students to do the same and join us in our cause. We mostly want the student body to understand that we all have rights as adults—rights given to us by our Constitution. When you are part of a publication—an independent publication—like “The Spectator,” you are granted certain rights not limited by the community you service or the advisers within reach. We believe in talking out those problems, should advisers and editors disagree, but if an impasse should occur—like the one at UGA—we stand behind “The Red and Black’s” former editorial staff in their protest. Just like the freedom of the press we hold dear, the freedom of speech is what gives Americans the right to speak-out against such opposition.

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