Even though the ban on Grambling State University’s
newspaper, The Gramblinite, has been removed, residual effects and questions of
why the ban was imposed in the first place still linger.
The administration is pointing the finger at the students
on The Gramblinite staff, claiming there were too many errors and several
incidents of plagiarism.
However, many Grambling students believe its staff was
chastised for speaking out against the disreputable acts of the administration.
Whether it was for quality’s sake or a personal vendetta,
GSU’s decision to shut down The Gramblinite technically violated the First
Amendment for free speech. Also, for those well versed in Supreme Court cases,
names like Hazelwood and Hosty should instantly spring to mind. And for those
who do not know the significance of these terms and have no idea what those
people in the black robes have been doing for the past 20 years, allow us to
The question of censorship involving high school
newspapers reached the Supreme Court in 1988 during Hazelwood School District
v. Kuhlmeier. The Supreme Court decided public high school officials have the
authority to censor most, but not all, student newspapers and other forms of
expression on the high school level.
The most identical court case to The Gramblinite’s
situation is 2005’s Hosty v. Carter, which involved Governors State
University’s newspaper, The Innovator, being banned for criticizing the
The Hosty case unfortunately allowed states in the
Seventh Circuit (Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin) to implement Hazelwood’s
decision on just the universities in their jurisdiction.
Everyone follow along and watch where this is going: The
Gramblinite is published in Grambling. Grambling is a city in Louisiana.
Louisiana lies in the Fifth Circuit of the United States, not the seventh.
Therefore, Robert Dixon, vice president of student
affairs at Grambling and his crew legally had no right to shut down the
newspaper for any amount of time, case closed.
This brief foray into Supreme Court cases past and
present was not intended to be a history lecture, but to reinforce the
illegality of the actions of GSU’s administration and to point out the fact
that The Gramblinite staff could have a case if ever they took it all the way to those nine in the black robes.