Twice within 48 hours, the Provost of the University of Alabama, Judy Bonner, issued orders banning independent faculty publications.
On a Monday late in November, Bonner first banned the ASA-sponsored The Alabama Observer from distribution through campus mail, citing unidentified “postal regulations.” On Wednesay, Bonner again issued an offical ban, this time against Alabama Academe, the newspaper of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).
The ASA newspaper began publishing last year, and is now in its third issue. It is frequently critical of the Alabama admnistration, and especially of its attempts to cover-up grade inflation and abuse its postion of authority by partisan huckstering on behalf of political leaders in Montgomery.
The AAUP paper has been published and distributed on campus for at least 30 years, according to AAUP campus representative Maartin Ultee.
Alabama now has a special distinction. According to officials at the AAUP national office, never in the history of the AAUP has one of its state newspaper been banned by a university.
Both actions follow the decision of the Administration to ban flyers distributed by the Federalist Society (a national association of legal scholars and students) and its campus chapter.
The University administration demonstrates, once again, the small regard it has for constitutional rights or the mission of the institution. That mission, just to remind them, is to encourage the exchange of ideas. Instead, Bonner (and, presumably, her superiors) has chosen to violate their sacred trust and to hide her action behind a fog of vagueness and prevarication.
The idea of citing “postal regulations” to stop both the ASA and the AAUP would be comical if it were not so deadly to our first amendment rights.
The ASA and the AAUP have now joined forces — one of the unintended (but for us, welcome) consequences of Bonner’s censorship policy — and will shortly initiate action that they hope will lead to the restoration of constitutional rights on the campus of the University of Alabama.