After El Vaquero reported accurately last month on two suicides by students in the nursing program, Glendale College president John Davitt complained that the story reflected poorly on the institution. His remedy was not to fix the institution but to blame the journalists. Davitt summoned faculty adviser Michael Moreau and ordered him to take the story off the paper's web site; most copies of the paper also disappeared from campus. Davitt has since retired, but the incident this week reached the website Inside Higher Ed:
After agreeing to take the article off the Web site, Moreau felt he had made a mistake. He soon contacted another newspaper adviser in California and officials with the Student Press Law Center, a national group that advocates for student free press issues.
They argued that the president had no right to interfere with the First Amendment freedoms of the student paper. Moreau informed Pojawa, the editor, about the situation and she decided that the paper should repost the full article on its Web site and that links to local media coverage of the controversy would also be provided.
Officials with the student health center were especially concerned about the president’s actions. They have said that the report was thorough and could encourage students who are feeling depressed to seek help.
Moreau agrees with that assessment. “The article makes people more aware of a growing problem,” he said. “People with mental illness are already sometimes stigmatized. I think that the administration sent the wrong signal.”
Earlier letters to the Glendale News-Press.