Oregon State University said this week it was “reviewing its options” after a federal appeals court reinstated a lawsuit by The Liberty, a right-leaning student paper. Here’s one option for the university to consider in the interest of avoiding further legal delays and expense. It could apologize to the student paper and reimburse it for the costs it has incurred. And it could pledge to make sure it would not repeat what caused this flap.
I remember the story when it happened. It was during the 2008-2009 academic year, when The Liberty’s distribution bins on the Corvallis campus disappeared. The boxes of other papers including some from off the campus were left in place. But The Liberty’s boxes were gone. They were found later where they had been dumped in a university storage yard.
The student editors of The Liberty charged that the university administration was arbitarily trying to limit their ability to reach out to the campus community based on their conservative message. In October 2009 they filed a federal lawsuit, which a lower court dismissed.
But the Ninth Circuit this week said it had no trouble finding constitutional violations if the facts were as claimed in the suit. So clearly, the suit deserved to have a trial, and not to be dismissed.
The university says it’s in favor of free speech and a free press. Of course. Well then, let it find a way to demonstrate that in this case. (hh)