A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

Journalism Education In-Brief

By Quill

Students refuse to censor violence package

The student newspaper staff at Hinsdale, Ill., Central High School ran into some resistance in April over a school-violence package timed to run on the second anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado. “Scared of School?” was a collection of stories that included an analysis of campus security, discussions of student fears and the roots of violence. But Principal Jim Ferguson said he felt the package’s sensational approach, with front-page graphics depicting armed students and bullet-ridden school crossing signs, posed a threat to safety. Ferguson confiscated the paper’s entire press run – nearly 2,200 copies – and told the staff that they had to remove the objectionable elements before the edition’s distribution could continue. On April 26, after consulting with student press experts, the Devil’s Advocate editorial board members decided that they wouldn’t make the requested changes. “To change it for the administration would be a dishonor and would set a precedent,” junior Annie Gilsdorf, a member of the editorial board and the lead writer on the violence stories, told the Chicago Tribune. On May 9, the violence series was published on an independent Web site. By midday May 11, 2,000 readers had already visited the site, Advocate editor Patrick Ashby, a senior, told the Tribune. Oberlin ousts two seniors for assaulting journalist

Less than a week before their graduation day, two Oberlin College seniors were expelled for attacking a student journalist in his dorm room. College President Nancy Dye expelled the students in late May for attacking student Jeffrey Harvey in Barnard House, a dormitory on the Ohio campus, on March 17. Another student and a college employee also were involved in the assault, police told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Harvey said the students attacked him because of a satire piece he wrote for the Grape, the college’s alternative newspaper. The story focused on the school football team’s losing streak, and at least two of the three students involved in the attack were football players. College employee Markeith Reed, 28, and students Richard J. Kocher, 22, Ryan O. Catignani, 22, and Nicholas Walker, 20, all were charged with aggravated burglary and assault and were freed on bail.