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Student editor sues over directive muting Kansas newspaper

March 2, 2021 GMT

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The student newspaper editor at Haskell Indian Nations University filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday alleging the university and its president violated the First Amendment rights of the students by retaliating against them for engaging in protected speech and journalistic activities.

The lawsuit stems from a directive Haskell’s president, Ronald Graham, sent in October to Jared Nally, editor of The Indian Leader, instructing him not to contact any government agency for information while representing the paper or “attack” any student, faculty member or staff in copy.

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“That directive forbade regular acts of journalism and restricted free speech expression, and the purpose of the lawsuit is to reaffirm that Haskell students have that,” Nally told the Lawrence Journal-World.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit that aims to protect free speech rights on college campuses, filed the lawsuit on his behalf. In addition to the university and its president, the lawsuit also names as defendants the Bureau of Indian Education and its director.

Graham and a spokesperson for the Bureau of Indian Education did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In January, Graham walked back his directive and acknowledged in a letter that he “took an incorrect approach.”