There are few elements on Earth more excitable than college students and journalists (maybe uranium), so if you do not currently have one on your case, best not to tempt fate.
This should be obvious enough to anyone who runs a college in this country, where failure to include Tuesdays with Morrie in a Western literature curriculum is enough to elicit cries of censorship. So why any college administrator would impose a gag rule on the entire student body - seemingly just for the fun of it - is a mystery.
Earlier this month, Indiana's Tri-State University, which, according to news reports, exists, informed its students of a new media policy. Effective immediately, no student "should interact with media representatives without prior approval from the marketing department." The policy also says students may not invite reporters on campus.
And no - Tri-State is not in the midst of any media crisis, public investigation, or internal revolt. Or at least it wasn't.
After The Journal Gazette learned of the policy (ya think a student shared it with a reporter, maybe?), the paper started investigating. A reporter called students and First Amendment groups to get their opinion. Not surprisingly, most weren't too keen on it. So the university began the inevitable backpedal.
"This is not a gag order," a spokesman told the paper, adding that there would be no disciplinary action for students who violate the ban.
By the time the AP picked up the story last week, Tri-State's official line was that it was reviewing the policy.
At least uranium lets you keep your dignity.
3. On the right track
- Douglas Quenqua writes PR Play of the Week. He is PRWeek's news editor.