By: John Milburn, Associated Press Writer
(AP) A federal judge on Wednesday threw out a court order that allowed the adviser of the Kansas State University student newspaper to resume his duties after he was removed amid criticism of the paper’s coverage.
U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ruled there was insufficient evidence to grant Ron Johnson’s request for a temporary injunction to prohibit Kansas State from reassigning him from the post he held for 15 years.
Johnson was removed in May after the newspaper was sharply criticized for failing to cover a regional conference on black student government that drew 1,000 people to campus in February.
Johnson sued the university, alleging the reassignment was an attempt to control the content of the Kansas State Collegian.
The judge issued temporary orders earlier this month that allowed Johnson to return to work. But she rescinded that ruling Wednesday, saying Johnson had failed to show that the reassignment caused irreparable harm and violated his rights.
Johnson said he was disappointed, and insisted the reassignment was “wrong and executed without due process and fairness.”
Stephen White, the university’s dean of arts and sciences, testified the decision to reassign Johnson was unrelated to the controversy over the newspaper’s coverage.
He said Johnson was reassigned based on a content analysis of The Collegian and the relationship Johnson had with others on campus and in the community.
The school’s journalism faculty voted 7-1 to remove Johnson as a member of the faculty, but White removed him only from advising duties and offered him classroom assignments instead, he said.
Two students questioned whether young journalists at Kansas State will have the freedom to report events without worrying about the potential consequences for advisers.
“There’s a sense that we lost a little control of what we want the newspaper to be,” editor Sarah Rice said after the hearing.