Campus protesters at Smith College banned reporters from covering a 12-hour sit-in on Wednesday unless they explicitly agreed to cover the protests favorably.
According to MassLive.com, the event, which drew between 300 and 500 participants, was organized to show support for Mizzou students who have been protesting what they say is racism on campus.
One of the sit-in organizers at Smith College told journalists that they were being banned because of “the way that media has historically painted radical black movements as violent and aggressive.”
“We are asking that any journalists or press that cover our story participate and articulate their solidarity with black students and students of color,” said Alyssa Mata-Flores, a senior at Smith College. “By taking a neutral stance, journalists and media are being complacent in our fight.”
Protesters at Mizzou attempted to bar reporters from covering the ongoing protests and entering a designated “safe space,” a public outdoor area in the middle of the taxpayer-funded public university. Given the wholly public nature of the public university, the Mizzou activists attempting to muzzle media eventually failed. However, since Smith College is a private institution, it appears that student agitators may actually be able to ban on-site media coverage of their antics.
Stacey Schmeidel, the school’s director of media relations, said the college was supported the decision of students to ban reporters who refused to take the students’ proposed loyalty oath.
“It’s a student event,” Schmeidel said, “and we respect their right to do that.”