- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 26, 2015

Smith College is reviewing its media access policies after student protesters last week banned reporters from covering a sit-in unless they expressed solidarity with the movement.

A sit-in from 1 p.m. to midnight on Nov. 18 at the private Northampton, Massachusetts, campus reportedly drew 300 to 500 students and Black Lives Matter activists who chanted and shared their experiences with racism and discrimination. Similar to rules enforced at the University of Missouri and other campuses nationwide, media members were not allowed to cover the sit-in unless they openly supported the movement, MassLive reported.

Stacey Schmeidel, Smith College director of media relations, told MassLive at the event that the school supported the students’ wishes.

“It’s a student event, and we respect their right to do that, although it poses problems for the traditional media,” she said, adding that the private college reserves the right to remove reporters.

“Smith College does not support a ban on media,” she later clarified in an email to MassLive. “Smith College does support the students’ right to set the rules for their own event.”

The spokeswoman said college administrators will “… remain committed to media access and will be reviewing our media access policies.”

The Washington Post quoted part of the Smith College student handbook in a blog post Thursday: “All members of the Smith community are obligated to provide, protect and promote the free exchange of ideas in every form on the Smith College campus. … If the campus is to be truly free, legitimate exchanges of dialogue must proceed without obstruction or coercion from any quarter,” the handbook says of media access.

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