Yee talks about students’ press rights

Amy Szabo

Calif. state senator shares his legislative work with educators

California Sen. Leland Yee spoke to students, faculty and Kent residents in the First Energy auditorium at Franklin Hall Friday. Yee spoke about freedom of the press and the rights of high school and college students. Caitlin Sirse | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

California State Senator Leland Yee, an advocate of free press rights for high school and college students, came to the United States when he was 3 years old from a communist China, so he takes his freedoms very seriously.

“I came to this country, and this country gave me that sense of democracy,” Yee said. “Out of that sense, I felt the need to ensure that future generations and other individuals would benefit from that.”

During his speech Friday in Franklin Hall, Yee cited an instance in California when a dean began using prior restraint after a student published an unfavorable story about him. Prior restraint occurs when a government or authority figure prevents an expression from being published.

“That ruling had a chilling effect in California,” Yee said, referring to the district court’s decision that allowed college administrators to use prior restraint.

Yee said the decision prompted the state congress to pass a law that prohibited any college newspaper or publication in California to be subject to prior restraint.

Still, Yee said he wanted everyone to know that administrative retaliation on college publications is present everywhere, not just in California.

“It’s happening now, and it’s happening every day,” Yee said.

Kathy Schrier, executive director of the Washington Journalism Education Association, said the same situation is happening in Washington.

“We have a bill similar to the bill California passed that we’re trying to pass,” Schrier said. “We just failed to pass the legislation two years in a row now.”

At Kent State, no cases of prior restraint haven been filed. Kent State President Lester Lefton meets with a Daily Kent Stater reporter twice a month.

Contact College of Communications and Information reporter Amy Szabo at [email protected].