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Student media group censures University of North Alabama

Students at the University's newspaper say UNA is infringing on their First Amendment rights.

Posted: Nov 30, 2018 11:21 PM
Updated: Dec 1, 2018 1:40 AM

The student run paper, the Flor-Ala, at the University of Alabama in Florence says the university is infringing on their First Amendment rights.

It all started with one article Harley Duncan published trying to find out why the a vice president of the university suddenly left and why another professor was placed on tresspass notice. The administration denied them that information. They then reported it went against former Attorney General Jeff Sessions opinion on this type of issue. You can read the original article here.

One week after the publication of the article, the current Vice President of Student Affairs spoke with the student writers and their advisor, Scott Morris.

Two weeks after the publication, the university accounced the qualifications for the advisor position were increasing to include a Ph.D. Somthing Morris does not have.

"I feel like they are retaliating against me because of what my students have written," Morris said.

The College Media Association seemed to agree. They issued a censure on UNA following an investigation into the incident. The censure does not hold any legal power, but it sheds light on concerns over First Amendment violations.

After the censure was issued, UNA said in a statement,"Since late 2014, the University has been discussing an upgrade to the position of Student Media Advisor to a tenure track faculty position."

The former chair of the Department of Communications, Dr. Gregory Pitts told us this change was not discussed with him in 2014 while he was chair of the department. Pitts said,"If anyone asserts that I made this request, I would describe their claim as FALSE."
Both Morris and Duncan say everyone should care about this issue.

"The first amendment is very important to all of us. To keep government accountable, no matter who they are," said Morris.

The Flor-Ala told us thy don't have enough money to be able to fight UNA on this issue, so they will just keep doing what they do best. Report information they think the community needs to know.

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