Despite Controversy, Virginia Tech Supports Student Publications
Despite the recommendation of Virginia Tech’s Commission on Student Affairs (CSA), the University will not pull funding from student media organizations. The controversy was over anonymous student postings on the website of the Collegiate Times, the student-run newspaper of Virginia Tech.
The CSA claimed that anonymous reader comments posted on the Times website violated the University’s “Principles of Community,” guidelines for maintaining civility within the University community. The Educational Media Company at Virginia Tech (EMCVT) in turn threatened legal action should the University follow through on the CSA’s recommendations.
Even where some of the operating budget for a student publication comes from its university, student publications are legally protected from censorship.
The University was concerned with the decorum of the publication. “The commission members have been saying that if we’re going to publish comments, they ought to be consistent with letters to the editor so people in a civil community can be held responsible,” said Ed Spencer, vice president for student affairs.
EMCVT argued that the student editors’ First Amendment rights take precedent over the University’s concerns of decorum.
"We defend students' free speech rights no matter what," said Kelly Wolff, the general manager of EMCVT.
EMCVT contains the Collegiate Times, the University TV stations, and a literary magazine, all of which are student-run.
There is currently no legal expiration for EMCVT’s contract with the University, though either side wishing to end the contract is required to give 24-months notice.