Silence Free Speech?

Vanessa Gomez

We are extremely fortunate to study in a country where freedom of speech is our right as stated in the first Amendment and encouraged as part of the education process. As journalism students, we at City Times feel it is unjust to have individuals in this country threatening our right to free speech.
The President of Los Angeles City College, Jamillah Moore, and her administrative colleagues, have become a threat to the freedom of student press.
The Collegian, LACC’s student newspaper, is facing an ongoing battle with Moore in what seems as an act of retaliation. Reports are surfacing that Moore pressured student reporters to sign releases for recording public meetings. Moore has attempted to “silence” the Collegian by cutting the budget for the paper 40 percent, while other student organizations faced cuts of only 15 percent.
The paper’s advisor, Rhonda Guess, feels that these attacks against the Collegian spawn from their reports of the school’s basketball team “falsifying residency status in order to receive in-state tuition.”
Journalists are groomed to speak on behalf of the community and to have someone in an authoritative role regulate the content of a student newspaper only stifles their voices.
Journalists are not meant to spread propaganda of the elite or carry out the personal agenda of just one group.
As journalists, it is our duty to give an unbiased view of the news, to try to speak for both sides of the story and remain objective at all times. Glorified publicists we are not.
To have to deal with looming budget cuts to school programs because of a declining economy is scary enough but to have to deal with cuts to programs because your newspaper doesn’t worship some administration’s agenda is horrific.
It is unfortunate that student journalism programs like LACC have such a negative support system that might discourage the creative learning process. To have this experience be a first taste of the industry at such a young stage in their education only discourages the interest these students might have in life-long careers.
At City Times, we find positive reinforcement from our advisor, faculty and staff, and those that hold higher administrative positions.
In support of our colleagues at LACC, we join the fight to protect our freedom of speech. We stand behind the common message that numerous schools across the country have declared: “We will not tolerate administrations that, for their own benefit, try to silence the voice of a student free press. We will continue to rebuke those in power who attempt to diminish that freedom, and we will not be silenced.”
As put best by our colleagues at CSU Fullerton: “An attack on free speech anywhere is an attack on free speech everywhere.”