Next to the steps leading up to the HCB Classroom Building, countless students have read a quote by the former president of Florida State University, J. Stanley Marshall. In 1970, Marshall said that we have “established that the university can tolerate dissent and preserve order and freedom.”
President Marshall was correct. Florida State has shown a commitment to honoring the First Amendment rights of its students, regardless of their beliefs. Individuals from across the political spectrum are invited to engage in civil discourse without fear of reprisal. Though many are still reluctant to express their views in the classroom, various events have been held on campus showing the university’s commitment to ideological diversity.
In November of 2021, FSU College Republicans hosted Ben Shapiro in the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. This was celebrated by conservatives at Florida State, as more than 1,500 attendees showed up for the event. Similarly, the university’s chapter of Turning Point USA held an event with conservative commentator and founder of the organization, Charlie Kirk, in September of 2022.
In the spirit of upholding the First Amendment, Florida State also has a robust presence of religious groups on campus. From Catholic Student Union (CSU), to Jewish groups such as Chabad and Hillel, our university has shown its commitment to another core constitutional principle: freedom of religious exercise.
Now, it is time that we focus on an aspect of this amendment that is often overlooked in the context of campus life. Freedom of the press is equally imperative to a thriving university.
Throughout my conversations with other students, many have expressed concern regarding the relative lack of articles promoting traditional American principles in various campus publications. While this is not the consequence of a censorious university administration, it is undoubtedly the result of a similar phenomenon that can be observed in the national press. Students who lean to the left politically tend to be dominant in this bailiwick.
There are two definitions of a “free press” that are important to keep in mind when evaluating the strength of the media. One of these is that the press is safe from the grasp of authoritarians who wish to forcibly censor unfavorable reporting. There is no doubt that by such a standard, the American media – and the media at Florida State – is free.
But a free press should also ensure that students of all walks of life are represented. Reporting should be geared towards reflecting the true interests of students, rather than the desire of writers to make ideological statements under the guise of “objective journalism.”
As the Capitol Collegian enters Florida State’s campus media ecosystem, the importance of creating a vibrant press at our university can no longer be overlooked. Giving a voice to individuals who believe in traditional American ideals, and those who wish to prioritize the concerns of students on campus over the promulgation of popular media narratives, is more critical than ever.
In just a few weeks, we will be welcoming the start of a new year. May the beginning of 2023 herald the beginning of a new era for campus media at our great school.