Jason C. Consolacion
Ed De La Garza
Christian Schmidt Keenan
Right to ask
There's been a lot published in these pages lately about the right to
a free press, free speech and all those other First Amendment goodies.
Here at the Cougar, we've been called into question for various perceived
Recent events at the Cougar, however, are no comparison to what recently
happened at the University of Texas at Tyler. The UT-Tyler student
newspaper's adviser, Vanessa Curry, was dismissed after encouraging
her students to practice aggressive reporting.
With Curry at the helm, the UT-Tyler Patriot was known for filing open
records requests for administrator salaries, campus crime reports, donors'
pet projects and anything else it deemed newsworthy. It drew heavy
criticism for this from officials; Provost David O'Keeffe said the requests
"raised some concern at the level of the administration ... (Students)
aren't prepared to do that. They can do a lot of harm."
After dismissing Curry, administrators presented new policies for the
Patriot, one of which allows senior administrators to determine "the
character and policies of all student publications" at the school,
which has 3,300 students. Administrators would also choose the paper's
a task previously performed by the adviser.
UT-Tyler's decision has raised a storm of criticism, especially from
a council of journalism and communication schools in eight states. Fred
Blevins, president of the Southwest Education Council for Journalism
and Mass Communication, wrote a letter in which he criticized UT-Tyler
administrators for dismissing Curry without "due process" or "establishing
"It is essential that administrators in higher education recognize that
teaching students about freedom of expression, and letting them practice
is a rudiment of the liberal traditional in education," Blevins wrote.
"It is not a toy to be given and taken away at the whim of administrators
fear embarrassment or accountability."
The right to freedom of expression is one of the most important rights
we as Americans have, and we should find any infringement upon it
The UT-Tyler administration has been urged repeatedly to reconsider
its decision to dismiss Curry, and we'd like to add our voices to the
chorus. Preventing students from practicing aggressive reporting while
purporting to be preparing them for real journalistic careers is
unprofessional and hypocritical.