Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

It’s time to support student free press

Owen Larsen / Advance-Titan - The Advance-Titan staff works on this week’s paper in their Reeve Memorial Union office.
Owen Larsen / Advance-Titan – The Advance-Titan staff works on this week’s paper in their Reeve Memorial Union office.

Editor’s Note: On Thursday, the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities unanimously approved the Wisconsin New Voices bill (AB 551), and it has been placed on the schedule for a vote before the entire Assembly on Tuesday, Nov. 7.  If the full Assembly votes in favor of the bill next week it will then go to the Senate Committee on Universities and Revenue (where it is classified as “SB 571”).

For those who want to help support this legislation, email statements of support for “SB 571” and freedom of speech for student publications at the high school and college level to the Senate chair of the committee, Sen. Hutton, at and to Sen. Cabral-Guevara at

The Advance-Titan staff  believe that Assembly Bill 551, which would protect student First Amendment rights by stipulating that student journalists are responsible for determining the content of student publications at public secondary schools and colleges, will improve our ability to learn real life journalistic skills in a student newsroom. The past has shown us that violations to our First Amendment rights can happen here unless we do something to stop it.

Take for example the Cardinal Columns, the Fond du Lac High School newspaper. In 2014, the staff had to fight back when their administration imposed a restrictive policy of prior review after the publication of a story on rape culture.

Then, in 2019, the North Star, Oshkosh North High School’s student newspaper, was the victim of administrative censorship when the school took down a factually accurate story regarding the suspension of the assistant principal. On top of this, the school pressed the students to reveal an anonymous source and subsequently established a prior restraint process on the paper, two further blatant violations of the publication’s First Amendment rights.

And just last year, the Advance-Titan fought back against prior restraint when the UWO marketing and communications department tried to require Advance-Titan writers and editors to submit interview questions to them in advance so they could vet them before granting us interviews.
It was nearly impossible for the A-T staff to report unbiased pieces about our campus to the community surrounding us without having access to all necessary sources. Assembly Bill 551 would stop that from happening. 

We are going through higher education in a time unlike any else before it. In the age of information overload and constant technological advancements, the ability to learn journalistic skills freely is more important than ever. 

There must be a specific, standard set of rules for student journalism. Students shouldn’t have to worry about ambiguous, subjective rulings from school administrators determining what students can and can’t write.

Bill 551 would allow students like us to experience the field in a safe and supported way while we pursue our education.  Students at every level need to know they can ask questions about and report on topics that are important to them and their communities without fear that their choices will be made for them or removed altogether. 

It’s more important than ever that our institutions put learning first and foster environments that develop critical thinking and communication skills students will need to succeed in future workplaces and as citizens in a democracy. 

Bill 551 will also encourage civic engagement among young people. UW studies have shown that students are unlikely to engage in difficult conversations, whether out of fear of being wrong or upsetting someone. Student journalism is a way to understand how to communicate in a professional, civil manner while thinking critically about any given topic.

We are preparing to become the next voices of the news in Wisconsin and by granting us the unrestricted access to prepare ourselves to be the best reporters possible, you are improving the entire state.

According to the Student Press Law Center website, 17 states have legislation that protects student press freedom, with West Virginia becoming the latest state on the list in March. 

If you agree with us, join us in this fight to make Wisconsin No. 18. Support Assembly Bill 551 by emailing Rep. David Murphy, R-Greenville, chair of the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities, at . Together we can help make the student press in Wisconsin truly free. 

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