College students fight for first amendment rights

The Hutchinson Collegian (KSN File Photo)

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – “Interesting” is how some Hutchinson Community College journalism students are describing the end of the school year. This comes after the school newspaper was suspended, then reinstated.

Earlier this week, HCC journalism classes were cancelled for the rest of the school year.

“One of the department chairs for Department Two says, ‘All of your classes from Mr. Montgomery are done for this semester. He’s not going to be here. Your grades will be posted, but no more classes,’” recalled Jeffery Leddy, a reporter for the school’s newspaper, The Hutchinson Collegian.

Leddy says his instructor, Alan Montgomery, was suspended without any explanation. Montgomery is also the faculty adviser for The Collegian.

Leddy was distributing papers on campus Monday when a school security guard stopped him.

“He said he needed to take all of those newspapers from me. I told him that’s wrong, it’s a first amendment violation, we have a right to distribute these,” stated Leddy.

Editor-in-Chief Loribeth Reynolds says she was surprised that the papers were taken.

The Student Government Association later distributed the papers, but the Hutchinson Collegian staff was told the paper was cancelled for the remainder of the school year.

“I felt that my rights were infringed upon by not being able to publish my last paper here,” Leddy said.

So, Reynolds set up a meeting Tuesday with the schools’ president and the outcome was positive for the Collegian’s staff.

“It is their paper, it’s for the students, and it’s their voice. And the only reason it wasn’t published on Friday is because we didn’t think it would be possible to publish it,” said Hutchinson Community College President Dr. Carter File.

Though classes for the students are still canceled because of the Montgomery’s suspension, Reynolds said she’s relieved that she gets to use her voice one last time at HCC.

“It’s really going to be bittersweet for me, and I’m really just happy that we can publish,” explained Reynolds.

HCC’s president would not comment on Montgomery’s suspension.

As for the cancelled journalism classes, the president says student’s grades won’t be affected. They will be graded on what they have done so far this semester.


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