A college newspaper in Nebraska is flat out denying conservative students the opportunity to have submissions published, while mocking their attempts behind closed doors according to a tip submitted to Young America’s Foundation’s Campus Bias Tipline.
After submitting a letter to the editor in early September in which he criticized the editorial choices of The Wayne Stater, which was never published—or even responded to—Wayne State College Student Senate President Blake Aspen followed up with the paper.
“Earlier this year, I sent you a letter that was critical, but fair of [The Wayne Stater’s] editorial practices. I’m curious as to when that letter will be published,” he wrote in a Wednesday email.
“As you are aware, at Wayne State College, we embrace diversity of all sorts. It’s mildly concerning when the Editor-In-Chief publishes statements claiming how proud she is to have an all-female editorial board with no right-of-center opinions shared whatsoever,” he continued.
“Given my willingness to sit down for multiple interviews with your paper, I am looking forward to hearing back from you with a timeline for publishing the letter to the editor.”
After Aspen’s follow-up email, the editors mocked him in a group chat. A whistleblower in the chat was able to capture screenshots of the conversation.
“Aww guys he wants his letter published in our paper!” said Laura Spieler, the arts and entertainment editor.
The Editor-in-Chief, Kaitlynn Breeden replied to her colleague, “Still not gonna do it lmao.”
“I’m gonna respond to his email and try to not be a b**** and explain why I’m not publishing it,” Breeden wrote.
The screenshot was shared with Aspen, who then posted it to Twitter on Wednesday.
His letter to the editor was a critique of an article that appeared in The Wayne Stater last spring. In an article titled, “Gov. Pete Ricketts limits press rights,” Editor-in-Chief Kaitlynn Breeden wrote “Hi, it’s me again <3 Just want to remind everyone that this is the opinion section, this is not news, will not be news, and I will be making fun of Pete Ricketts again.”
“This is just my opinion, nothing about this needs to be taken to heart. If you’re a Ricketts stan, maybe skip this one and just read the news section this week.”
Aspen thought this was an improper way to address fellow students in an academic setting.
In his letter to the editor—which remains unpublished—he wrote, “When [The Wayne Stater] editors, and more specifically, the editor-in-chief, openly ask readers who do not align with the writer’s perspective to ‘sit this editorial out,’ it causes grave concern. This shows that you’re not even attempting to compel or persuade individuals who might disagree with you.”
After being contacted by YAF, The Wayne Stater Editor-in-Chief Kaitlynn Breeden published a statement claiming that all of her opinion articles—including the one Aspen responded to—were actually not meant to persuade anyone, and instead they were “satire,” despite having never been labeled as such.
Letter to the editor evolves into Twitter storm on Stater editorial policieshttps://t.co/rna8o3XL4s
— The Wayne Stater (@TheStater) October 8, 2021
“The only goal I have when writing my opinion columns is to make the reader laugh. That is honestly it. They are meant to be taken as a joke.” Breeden wrote.
“…if the letter he sent in wasn’t a personal attack on myself and other editors, I would’ve published it weeks ago,” added Breeden.
She then expressed disappointment in the possible conservative views among her staff.
“…someone may have conservative views, because they sent Aspen a screenshot of our private group messages. This is disappointing to me because this could lead to staff members not expressing what they really think during meetings anymore, due to not wanting someone to leak information about them.”
In her statement, Breeden claims “For the last two years we have asked Student Senate vice presidents and presidents (as well as some organizations) to send in editorials or columns.”
However, Aspen, the Student Senate President, says he has never received any such invitation.
Despite her statement, she did not respond to YAF’s requests for comment.
According to Aspen, he still hasn’t received an email response from The Wayne Stater’s editors.
“Never in my life have I seen a more hostile environment perpetuated towards conservative thought than right now,” he told YAF.
“The reckless ideologues at The Wayne Stater discriminate against conservatives in private, but it’s up to conservative students across the country to demand transparency in the way these publicly funded newspapers operate. It’s time to end the suppression of speech on college campuses.”
In response to YAF’s request for comment, Wayne State College Director of College Relations Jay Collier said “The student journalists on the editorial board of The Wayne Stater have the right to determine the content of the publication consistent with Board Policy 3350,” but added that “We would encourage the editorial staff of The Wayne Stater to review its editorial policies to ensure accountability and transparency in its decision-making consistent with prevailing journalistic ethical and professional standards.”
This is only the latest in a trend of student newspapers silencing conservative voices. In September, YAF reported on the ousting of the Editor-in-Chief of the Oklahoma State University school newspaper, The O’Colly, due to her conservative stance in a recent op-ed.
In September 2020, YAF reported on a University of Wisconsin-Madison student whose anti-defunding the police op-ed was denied by The Badger-Herald, because it “would cause a lot of backlash.”
Whether it’s in the classroom, or by omission in school papers, the impact of silencing conservative voices is devastating. Learning and growing is facilitated by being challenged and forced to defend one’s beliefs. This can’t happen when any and all challenges are avoided. Students across the country must not give up the fight to have their voices heard: The future of journalism, academia, and American tradition depend on it.
To voice your concern contact The Wayne Stater at firstname.lastname@example.org.