Indian Nations University Student Paper Editor Sues School For Restricting Speech

(Photo credit: Gary Rohman / FIRE)

Andrew Afifian Contributor
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Haskell Indian Nations University is being sued for violations of the First Amendment by the editor of its student newspaper after he received a letter from the university president reprimanding his journalistic practices.

Jared Nally, the editor-in-chief of the university newspaper The Indian Leader, alleges that a letter from the university president, dated Oct. 16, 2020, contained threats and demands that constitute a prior restraint on his First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of the press, according to a Tuesday report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

The lawsuit says that though university claims to defend students’ First Amendment rights it violates them by forcing students to conform their speech to Haskell’s “vague and subjective” CIRCLE Values, according to FIRE.

“It’s important for student journalists to not only know our rights, but also our role. We exist to hold our university accountable and to inform our fellow students and community. We have a right to press freedom and to share these stories,” Nally said, according to FIRE.

The lawsuit demands the university answer for allegations which include silencing Nally’s speech for several months and shorting the newspaper of funding, FIRE reported.

The lawsuit also demands the university revise its unconstitutional restriction for on-campus speech, according to the organization.

Haskell was sued in the 1980s by the then-editors of the student newspaper, who also alleged that the university had violated their free speech rights, FIRE reported. As a result, the university had entered into a settlement with a promise to desist with “prior restraint or censorship.” (RELATED: NY Court Rules Student’s ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ Social Media Post Was Racist)