Troubling Incidents at CUNY Campuses Raise Concerns for Press Freedom and Students’ Free Expression
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK—Recent incidents on the City University of New York (CUNY)’s Kingsborough and Bronx Community College campuses, in which journalists attempting to interview students or take pictures on campus were detained, charged with trespassing, or escorted off campus represent an unnecessary infringement upon press freedom and students’ freedom of expression. These incidents come on the heels of other similar cases, including one in May of this year where four specific journalists were barred from entering a building where students were engaged in a protest action at the University of of Colorado Boulder.
These incidents raise concerns that the universities in question are taking steps to restrict media access to newsworthy campus events and keep students from speaking to the media, particularly when the coverage might reflect poorly on the school. While universities are free to establish certain guidelines around visitor access, two of the CUNY incidents occurred outdoors and in one case outside the campus gates, suggesting that journalists in particular were being kept off campus grounds. “Particularly at this moment of heightened public interest in debates happening on campuses about free speech, inclusion, and universities’ attempts to reckon with complicated histories, student voices must be heard in the media,” said Summer Lopez, Senior Director of Free Expression Programs at PEN America. “Educational institutions have an obligation to support transparency and free speech—even when they might not like what students have to say.”
PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.
Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Coordinator: [email protected], +1.646.981.0685
Correction: one of the two CUNY colleges where the incidents took place is Bronx Community College, not Brooklyn Community College.