Some students at Rutgers’ all-female Douglass College received college credit for a petition drive to ban a student weekly, The Medium, which published photos of nude women. Paul Mulshine, Newark Star-Ledger columnist, once was The Medium’s editor.
As part of a required “activism” project, (Douglass) students in a class called “Woman, Culture and Society” decided to petition for the Medium to be banned from campus. If you are a student of the First Amendment, as I am, you will note that such a ban would be in violation of the Constitution. Nonetheless, the students set up a table on campus and began gathering signatures on a petition. (Medium editor Mike) Stanley and a few other editors went to Douglass to find out what the women were so worked up about.
“One of the women said she was upset that we had pictures of nude women in the paper,” he said. He pointed out that there were some nudes in the Douglass newspaper, the Caellian, as well as lesbian erotic writing. But the women weren’t calling for the Caellian to be suppressed.
“When I found out this was part of a class, I thought, ‘How can a teacher be encouraging something that is against the Constitution?'”
Good question. I put it to Barbara Balliet, acting director of the women’s studies department at Douglass.
“That’s not what they’re getting credit for,” Balliet responded. She agreed that a ban on distribution would be unconstitutional, “but in the process of trying to do this thing which they think they can do, they will learn they can’t do it,” she said.
A few days after the anti-Medium demonstration, 5,000 copies of the Medium, out of a 6,000-copy print run, were stolen. Last time students stole copies of a newspaper they didn’t like, the culprits were told not to do it again. That was it.
Rutgers spokesman Sandy Lanman assures me that this time around if the miscreants are caught they will be prosecuted under the college judicial code.
“Hopefully, this will lead to a constructive dialogue,” Lanman told me.
Mulshine hopes it will lead to felony indictments.