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Op-ed: AU must support journalists

Fallon Forbush criticizes AU's decision to keep professional journalists off campus

Op-ed: AU must support journalists

As a graduate student who walked down the Bender Arena stage on May 13 to receive my master’s degree in journalism from the School of Communication, I am especially appalled by the conduct of the university’s administration to remove journalists from campus who were covering the bias-related crime that was committed on campus and the student response.

While removing professional journalists from campus may have been a legal action for AU, which is a private university, it flies in the face of its journalism students who are taught to uphold the First Amendment and make a career out of providing transparency. 

Furthermore, hampering its student journalists by creating an atmosphere where professional journalists were unwelcome and interfering in the peaceful demonstration against a pattern of racial hate crimes on university grounds, in any way, was a clear violation of the students’ rights to freedom of expression and dissent.

This right is clearly documented in the University’s policies. While I applaud the University for including this right for its students in its policies, the administration needs to be taken to task for following through on its guarantees for its student body.

American University’s decision to stifle the expression of its students by censoring public information not only violates fundamental democratic principles, it also sets a bad example and hinders learning that is vital for students who want to pursue a career in journalism.

Journalists gather, interpret and report the facts. My education at the University’s School of Communication is where I learned to apply these skills and implement sound editorial judgment that is necessary for the profession.

Students need to be treated like the adults they are, and the student media and all other news organizations deserves the respect and freedoms that are given to them in the real world. If there are crimes and police officers working on campus, then there needs to be journalists on campus.

I am a graduate student who did not live on campus. I also completed my studies. However, I could not remain silent. I also encourage the current student body to petition the administration and express its opinions on this issue.

Fallon Forbush is a graduate of American University’s School of Communication class of 2017.