Montclair State Newspaper Independence Finalized
After over six months of controversy, Montclair State University President Susan A. Cole has formally declared that the university’s student newspaper, The Montclarion, will soon exist independent of its governing body, the Montclair State Student Government Association. Conflict between The Montclarion and the SGA began last year when a dispute over the SGA’s alleged violation of New Jersey’s Freedom of Information Act prompted the newspaper to hire an attorney. The SGA gave the paper permission to enlist legal counsel under the stipulation that they turn over any and all confidential correspondences with the lawyer. When the Montclarion refused, the SGA froze the paper’s funding, effectively revoking its First Amendment free press protections. The Montclarion published for nearly a month without a budget, and was finally forced to shut down publication. When the SGA failed to release the funds Montclair State President Susan Cole stepped in and put the paper on the path to independence, promising that the university would pay for publication until it was able to declare self-sufficiency. This summer the university's Board of Trustees voted to raise the school's student activity fee by $3.80 to pay for the newspaper's operating budget. While the allotted amount will not cover The Montclarion's full budget, the paper is expected to generate further revenue from advertising, as many independent college newspapers currently do. In the coming weeks The Montclarion will be filing paperwork with the New Jersey Secretary of State that will guarantee the paper's independence as a nonprofit corporation. Currently there is no formal agreement in place between the newspaper and the university, although the university is forming an advisory board of news industry professionals to help guide the newspaper.
More from the Montclarion
More from the Student Press Law Center
More from the New Jersey Star-Ledger
More from The Record
A letter of concern from FIRE
Read about the original scandal from New York Times