CSU student paper resumes publishing as federal lawsuit continues

  • By Peter Sachs
  • Staff Writer
  • April 16, 2009 @ 9:00 AM

Chicago State University’s student newspaper resumed publishing yesterday, just in time to cover the visits of two presidential candidates this week.

But a federal lawsuit continues and questions and allegations remain about why the paper stopped publishing in January and under what circumstances it was able to resume publishing.

According to the federal lawsuit filed in February, the Tempo stopped publishing amid pressure from administrators and the paper’s new advisor to censor its content.

Student editor George Providence and former advisor Steven Moore say in the lawsuit that two CSU administrators violated the First Amendment and the Illinois College Campus Press Act when they asked the paper to stop publishing stories on controversial topics.

“The defendants know what their responsibility is under the First Amendment, they know that, they just don’t seem to care,” says Roma Stewart, the attorney for Providence and Moore.

While CSU itself is not named as a defendant, its interim president, Frank Pogue, and university relations director Patricia Arnold are.

Tempo was previously shut down in 2003 but started publishing again in March 2008, the lawsuit says. Moore was hired in mid-2007 to get the paper up and running, including writing publication policies and helping reporters and editors craft stories.

Moore says he was fired in October with no reason given. He suspects it’s because he stood up to administrators unhappy about two stories the paper had run about the questionable costs of a fashion show put on by a student group.

“In raising the question about the money that financed the show that they put on and the expense of that show, I think they were getting a little too close to some other issues” relating to how student activity fees are spent on campus, said Moore, who now lives in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The newest issue of the paper, which appeared on campus Wednesday, had articles about the presidential search process, the baseball team and sexually transmitted diseases, among other topics, student Elise Burks said.

It was the first issue of the paper since a Jan. 22 issue that apparently was never published, the lawsuit says. Leading up to then, officials at CSU were growing increasingly upset at the publication, according to the lawsuit.

In December, university relations director Arnold sent e-mails to Providence critical of the newspaper and his leadership as editor. In one e-mail contained in the court records, Arnold wrote, “As the voice of the students, has Tempo reflected them in a positive light? Is its reputation built on empowering or denigrating members of the CSU family?”

Excerpts from the e-mails were cited in the original lawsuit.

“You didn’t see the entire emails,” Arnold said Wednesday. “You really need to see it in context.” She declined to provide copies of the full e-mails.

“The defendants and their agents want to position Tempo to be (the) University’s official publication to present the University favorably to the community,” the plaintiffs said in the lawsuit.

Moore, who had left in October, said he wasn’t surprised to hear the paper had been shut down several months ago.

“CSU has been hiding under the shadows a long time and I think what’s happened to the students there is terrible,” he said.

 

Daily News Staff Writer Peter Sachs covers higher education. He can be reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 18, or peter [at] chitowndailynews [dot] org.

Discuss