Less than a week before First Amendment Day, a UNC-system school infringed on students’ right to free press.
Administrators at Western Carolina University informed the staff of the school’s student newspaper, The Western Carolinian, Friday afternoon that they would be suspending the newspaper’s publication to investigate plagiarism allegations against some of its reporters.
Students were not given reasons why the investigation, which had already been going on for almost a month, could not continue without shutting down the newspaper, said Justin Caudell, its editor-in-chief.
Although the newspaper was reinstated Wednesday morning after Caudell met with administrators, the university still has not given students a clear reason for suspending the newspaper.
“What happened at Western Carolina is one of the clearest cut First Amendment violations we’ve seen at a public university,” said Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, which provides legal assistance to student journalists about their rights.