Editorial: Standing in solidarity

North Wind Staff

We would like to dedicate this space to supporting other university student newspapers having similar struggles to our own, particularly Delta State University in Mississippi whose journalism program funding was cut Thursday, April 16 in a unanimous vote by the state’s higher education commission. This includes all funding to the student newspaper’s production and the salary of the journalism program’s only professor.

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Though Delta State administration said the budget cut is due to low enrollment, Conor Bell, a Delta State journalism student, said he believes it is an attempt to censor student newspaper writers “who often come into conflict with the university.”

A Huffington Post article on the issue reported that professional organizations, such as the Society of Professional Journalists, the Mississippi Press Association and the Southeast Journalism Conference “released statements in support of the university’s journalism program and The Statement. The press association offered to pay for The Statement’s print production costs next year as the university looks for funding alternatives.”

This may be overused, but it couldn’t be more true at a time like this: Thomas Jefferson once said, “our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

In holding governing bodies accountable, we are more investigators than judges, and by allowing the public to judge the facts we bring forward, we fulfill our duties. This is one of the most important roles one can serve in our society and any diminishment of the free press is a violation of the First Amendment.

Infringing upon this freedom is fracturing one of the cornerstones of democracy and civilized society everywhere. If by exercising our right to free speech and free press we infringe upon others’ rights, then of course, we would be in the wrong. But in the case of Delta State University, the student journalists were doing their job and getting a proper educational experience.

Delta State University deserves a free press more than its administrators deserve privacy from the public. Its administration should be ashamed to not uphold its constitutional duties to protect and ensure free speech as a part of campus space.

The university’s purpose is to churn out the next generation of intelligent, informed citizens. Unfortunately, the national trend is to churn out blind, sheepish consumers enamored with authority. Unless this trend changes, the future of American democracy is in peril, especially where student press is concerned.

As students, we all have a common goal: graduate with a degree. As journalists, we all have the same purpose behind doing the job we do: to get the news to the public. It doesn’t matter what major is pursued or the university at which journalism is practiced, there is a similarity and solidarity between the students.

We stand by our journalism peers at Delta State University because we stand for the work they are doing and for their practice of the First Amendment.