Universities have no place silencing student journalists

Mary Dolan

“Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here.”

These were just a couple of the things spoken by University of Missouri professor Melissa Click on Nov. 9 as she attempted to prevent student journalists from accessing protesters who did not want to interact with the media. Click ended up resigning, and her actions sparked conversation about student journalists and their place on college campuses.

Student journalists have been around since the advent of college newspapers (Dartmouth claims theirs is America’s oldest), but the rise of social media and financial struggles at many college media entities have made it difficult for these reporters to maintain a dominant presence.

However, student journalists and college media outlets still play an important role in the dissemination of news on college campuses. They are able to confirm or deny rumors and ensure that students receive relevant and helpful information that impacts their daily lives. More importantly, they can provide a place for students to make their voices heard.

Sociology and journalism sophomore Jasmine Barnes said this is why she supports student media.

“Student journalism is important because it gives students a venue to express their voices about campus-related issues,” Barnes said. “Without student journalists, we would only hear the opinions and desires of administrators and UT faculty. I think it’s really necessary for students to have ways to protest, raise awareness and report on issues that matter to them.”

When student journalists are kept from reporting on campus issues, they are unable to report on details that may matter to students and are prevented from raising awareness about issues affecting University workers and attendants. That’s why it’s dangerous when one person — such as Melissa Click — attempts to dictate what these students can and cannot do based upon her own personal views and desires.

Journalism junior Noelle Darilek said student journalists have a responsibility to disseminate important information.

“It’s important for college students to be informed about what’s happening around them, whether it affects them directly or not,” Darilek said. “Student journalism is one of the best ways to spread information to many and to give those reading the stories details about what is currently happening.”

Student journalists should not be dismissed or bullied into covering only what a select few want them to cover. Instead of being threatened with “muscle,” student journalists should be encouraged to report on stories that have a true and lasting impact on campus.

Dolan is a journalism sophomore from Abilene. Follow Dolan on Twitter @mimimdolan.