University of Utah Journalists Allowed to Graduate

After their school placed their records on hold, student journalists will get diplomas.

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Every year since 1999, departing seniors at the University of Utah's Daily Utah Chronicle have done a going-away prank. This year's drew some criticism.

Using big, bolded letters to start each going-away column by senior writers, two pages in the Chronicle each featured one word that ruffled the feathers of the university. On one page, the first letter of each column, when put together, spelled "penis"; the other page spelled "c*nt". College Media Matters has the layout as it appeared in print at the end of April. In response to the prank, the school placed administrative holds on each of the nine writers' academic records. In other words, the school was thinking about not allowing the students to receive their diplomas. This week, the school relented.

The nine student journalists will receive their diplomas after all, the Student Press Law Center says. The university administration lifted holds placed on the students' academic records after finding that the students had not violated the school's Student Code of Conduct and Responsibilities. Each of the journalists met with the associate dean of students and had their names cleared of all charges. They received notice of the decision on Friday.

"I pointed out that we hadn't heard anything about the prank for a week until the administration saw it and decided to take action," Chronicle Editor-in-Chief Rachel Hanson, who was one of the nine journalists, tells the SPLC. "It was a good lesson for us as journalists and for the administration as well to see that they can't just try to squelch our First Amendment rights without having some sort of push back."

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