Western Oregon Accused of Undermining Free Speech

Advocacy group sends critical letter to officials who punished student journalist over security breach story.


A journalism advocacy group, College Media Advisers, sent a letter to Western Oregon University officials, criticizing the school for its handling of a security breach and the student newspaper's subsequent reporting on it, the Student Law Press Center reports.

The hubbub began in June 2007, when a member of the student newspaper, the Journal , stumbled upon a file on the school's public servers that contained the Social Security numbers, and other personal information, of prospective students. The paper dutifully reported on the breach. University computer technicians then rifled through newsroom files in the cover of night. The contract of the paper's adviser was then not renewed, and the student whistle-blower was punished for violating the school's computer use policy.

Although a committee formed by the university concluded school officials did nothing wrong, the advocacy group accuses the Western Oregon of a "lack of understanding of basic journalism principles and ethics."