University of Massachusetts at Amherst: Student Newspapers Stolen While Police Officer Watches
When a student government leader was ridiculed in an issue of conservative campus newspaper The Minuteman, she decided to take matters into her own hands. The student, Vanessa Snow, was mocked by name as a leader of UMass Amherst's student group Student Bridges, a campus organization supported by the UMass Amherst Student Government Association, because of Student Bridges' finances. She violated the First Amendment right to free speech of the student group that publishes the newspaper by standing on the stack of newspapers, then grabbing them out of the hands of a student after she was required to stop standing on the stack. Meanwhile, the police officer who was on the scene watched and did nothing, but then filed a police report that does not match the video of the event. After FIRE intervened, Snow reportedly was held accountable, but it is unknown whether detective Lisa Kidwell faced disciplinary action.
- "Victory for First Amendment Rights at UMass Amherst: Administration Rejects Censorship of Newspaper," April 23, 2009: Under pressure from FIRE, University of Massachusetts Amherst has rejected the student government's official censorship of The Minuteman, a conservative campus newspaper that mocked a student government official. In addition, FIRE has learned that UMass Amherst has held accountable at least one of the people who stole copies of The Minuteman out of the hands of a student while a campus police officer watched and did nothing.
- "UMass Amherst Stands by as Student Newspaper is Stolen and Censored," April 16, 2009: Multiple First Amendment violations have rocked the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus in recent days. UMass has done nothing about the videotaped theft of and, later, the student government's official censorship of The Minuteman, a conservative campus newspaper that mocked a student government official. Worse, last night, when a student senator offered a bill to reverse the unconstitutional censorship of The Minuteman, the Senate's speaker had the UMass police throw him out (video of this incident is expected soon). These assaults on free speech came in the wake of last month's disgraceful episode in which a speech by columnist Don Feder was shouted down by hecklers while UMass police officers did nothing. The many aggrieved parties on this out-of-control campus have come to FIRE for help.
- "Incident Report Filed by Vanessa Snow and Detective's Narrative," April 15, 2009
- "Derek Khanna removed from SGA senate meeting," The Daily Collegian Online, April 15, 2009
- "FIRE Letter to UMass Amherst Chancellor Robert C. Holub," April 10, 2009
- "Under Pressure from FIRE, UMass Amherst Revises 2010's Speech Code of the Year," by William Creeley, February 14, 2011: Under pressure from FIRE, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst has revised its policy governing rallies on campus. In January, FIRE named the policy the 2010 Speech Code of the Year. The policy also helped earn UMass Amherst a spot on FIRE's recent "12 Worst Colleges for Free Speech" feature for The Huffington Post. The policy confined "controversial rallies" to the Student Union steps between noon and 1 p.m., required student groups to register their rally five days in advance, and mandated that members of the group act as security for the event. The revised policy requires registration 24 hours before an event, allows rallies during class hours, and does not require students to serve as security for the rally.
- "Glaring Deficiencies Revealed in Police Report Following Theft of ‘The Minuteman’," by Peter Bonilla, June 18, 2009
- "Victory for First Amendment Rights at UMass Amherst: Administration Rejects Censorship of Newspaper," by Adam Kissel, April 23, 2009
- "First Amendment Chaos at UMass Amherst," by Adam Kissel, April 16, 2009
- "UMass Amherst SGA Ejects Senator Standing Up for the First Amendment," by Adam Kissel, April 16, 2009
- "UMass Amherst Student Government Has a Chance to Restore First Amendment Rights," by Adam Kissel, April 15, 2009
- "Video: Newspaper Theft at UMass Amherst While Police Officer Watches," by Adam Kissel, April 2, 2009
- "Breaking News: Freedom of the Press Disrupted at UMass Amherst," April 1, 2009
- "Administration rejects SGA suspension of 'The Minuteman',"
by S.P. Sullivan, The Daily Collegian Online, April 21, 2009
- "UMass-Amherst abandons free-speech rights,"
by Pete Chagnon, OneNewsNow.com, April 21, 2009
- "Hell week for campus free speech,"
by Greg Lukianoff, The Huffington Post, April 2, 2009