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THIEL COLLEGE Editor of student paper charges administration with censorship



Published: Sun, February 16, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The student paper won't be shut down, the college president says.

GREENVILLE, Pa. (AP) -- A student newspaper editor says administrators urged a professor to censor the newspaper after it ran articles critical of the school -- as well as a photograph of a student wearing condoms on her ears.

Lance Masters, president of Thiel College, said the school is not censoring the paper. He said the school temporarily halted printing to make sure nothing libelous was in the paper when the newspaper's adviser resigned over concerns that critical stories would affect his chance for tenure.

In November, communications professor Dan West resigned as faculty adviser after administrators suggested that his performance at the paper could be factored into his chance to make tenure, said Nathan Shrader, editor of The Thielensian.

"Our faculty adviser was informed that his promotion could be in jeopardy if he didn't pretty much censor the newspaper," Shrader said.

Masters said the concern was largely unfounded because he has approved tenure for every professor the school has recommended since becoming president four years ago.

"Could an administration hold it against an adviser, I suppose the answer is maybe," Masters said. "Theoretically, is it likely? Well, it's never happened in the history of this institution."

Problematic stories

The weekly student paper ran stories about proposed plans to build a new presidential house and an expos & eacute; on how faculty salaries were below average while administrative salaries were above average.

Shrader was asked during a board of trustees meeting why the paper ran a photograph of a female student wearing condoms on her ears without an accompanying story explaining it was part of a safe-sex event, Masters said. Shrader said the photograph included a caption with details of the event.

"I do feel that they [newspaper staff] have exercised judgment that is certainly being questioned by many alumni, trustees, staff and community members," Master said, noting that the college, as publisher, bears ultimate responsibility for the paper's content.

"But I certainly won't criticize Nathan. I think he has a very bright future," Masters said.

The school has no intention to shut down the paper, he said.

Working on new contract

The new adviser, tenured political science professor Robert Wells, said he is now crafting a new contract with the school's attorneys that will strike a balance between the students' rights and the school's legal concerns.




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