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SPJ president seeks reinstatement of Fairmont professor

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — A national organization that represents journalists has requested that a Fairmont State University journalism professor be reinstated.

On Tuesday, Society of Professional Journalists President Dana Neuts sent a letter to FSU President Maria Rose asking that Michael Kelley be reinstated without penalty as a professor and adviser to the student-run newspaper.

 According to a release from SPJ, Kelley’s contract was not renewed by the university in the aftermath of articles about black mold that ran in The Columns. Student staff members, including the newspaper’s editor-in-chief and managing editor, claim that university officials tried to “control the newspaper’s content, interfere with its operations and intimidate students” and believe Kelley’s contract was not renewed because articles reflected negatively on the university.

“So far, the university’s responses to allegations of censorship, violations of First Amendment rights, and bullying are inadequate and do not reflect a genuine commitment on the part of the university to independently investigate the treatment of journalists and journalism at Fairmont State,” Neuts said in the letter. “This is not a ‘contract matter’ to be adjudicated through faculty appeal channels. No one at the university has adequately explained why it was necessary to let Mr. Kelley — a well-credentialed journalism adviser — go…


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