An advertisement for a pub had been running in Pacific Lutheran University’s campus newspaper for about a year when the vice president of student life put a stop to it.
The school’s “dry” campus policy that prohibited alcohol on the grounds would not permit such ads to appear.
Student journalists, including SPJ members, protested on the campus of the Tacoma, Wash., school.
The issue had not been resolved at press time. But in the midst of that struggle for press freedom, the university’s SPJ chapter won the Campus Chapter of the Year award and was recognized during the 2006 Mark of Excellence Awards banquet Oct. 5.
“Just because we have the right to regulate doesn’t mean you should,” said Breanne Coats, 2006 president of the school’s SPJ chapter.
Coats, who accepted the award with the current SPJ president and a member, said the paper’s strong content also sets it apart.
“We weren’t just focused on our own issues. If there was an issue in the nation and in the world, we would try to bring it back to home,” she said.
Coats also won the Robert D.G. Lewis First Amendment Award.
“The First Amendment is important and it protects everyone and it benefits society to make us the great country we are,” Coats said.
The winner of the David Eshelman Outstanding Campus Adviser Award was Rick Brunson, a journalism professor at University of Central Florida since 2004. He helped revive the chapter after three years of inactivity.
The primary focus of the chapter is connecting students and professional journalists through workshops and other activities, Brunson said.
“Friday night, I go to work at the Orlando Sentinel newsroom, I look around and I see four or five of my students who are there on internships or they’ve gotten jobs, thanks to our work through SPJ,” Brunson said.
The Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award went to Ralph S. Izard, a journalism professor at Ohio University and Louisiana State University, who won for being involved in journalism diversity projects.
“I’m gratified that SPJ has maybe implied that I’ve made some contribution in this process,” said Izard, who has taught for 43 years.
Western Kentucky University 2007 graduate Ashlee Clark won the Julie Galvan Outstanding Graduate Award. She did not attend the convention.
Last year, she was president of the campus SPJ chapter and editor in chief of the College Heights Herald. She also served on SPJ’s national board.
Clark received the award for participating in the Dow Jones Minority Workshop three years in a row and showing exceptional journalistic skills, among other criteria.