LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - The student newspaper at the University of Kansas has filed a lawsuit accusing university administrators of approving funding cuts to the newspaper that were enacted after an editorial critical of the student Senate.
The University Daily Kansan’s leadership filed the lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas. The lawsuit accuses University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and Vice Provost for Student Affairs Tammara Durham of approving funding cuts to the newspaper made by the student Senate in violation of the newspaper’s freedom of speech protections.
University spokesman Joe Monaco told The Topeka Capital-Journal (https://bit.ly/1Q22x9R) Friday he didn’t know anything about the lawsuit and said no one was immediately available to comment. He did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Saturday.
A spokesman for the student Senate didn’t immediately return a call early Friday evening.
The lawsuit comes after a May 2014 editorial in the student newspaper by Mark Johnson, president of the Kansan’s board of directors. The editorial highlighted “inadequacies” in the student Senate election code and what the paper called a “confusing” appeals process.
The lawsuit also alleges that throughout the next annual budget review of the Kansan’s student fees, student senators used the process to punish the newspaper’s leadership for unflattering coverage. The newspaper sought to maintain its funding level of $2 per student per semester, or about $90,000 a year. But in February 2015 the student senate’s fee review committee voted to cut the fee to $1, reducing funding by about $45,000.
The lawsuit alleges that as the Kansan’s fee made its way through the senate process, the newspaper’s content was discussed multiple times. The full Senate approved a $1 fee cut on April 1, 2015.
“We want our funding restored and we want acknowledgment that there was a First Amendment violation,” said Katie Kutsko, the newspaper’s former editor in chief, and a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com
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