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Haskell Indian Nations University, a tribal institution in Kansas, on Tuesday settled a federal lawsuit by a former editor of the student newspaper who said a now former university president impinged on the free speech rights of student journalists, the Associated Press reported.
Campus leaders agreed in a consent decree signed Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson not to place restrictive limits on free speech or engage in any form of retaliation.
Jared Nally, former editor of The Indian Leader, sued then president Ronald Graham, the Bureau of Indian Education and its director in October 2020. Graham at the time directed Nally not to contact any government agency on behalf of the paper and not to “attack” students, staff or faculty members in stories. The move was widely criticized by First Amendment rights advocates, and Graham sent a letter to Nally rescinding the directive in January 2021. Graham was fired in May after an internal investigation of his conduct.
The settlement will protect the editorial independence of the newspaper and the free expression of students, according to Katie Kortepeter, a spokesperson for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the group that filed the suit on Nally’s behalf.
“I hope this case not only protects the next generation of student journalists at Haskell but empowers individuals at other institutions to realize they have rights and options when it comes to using their voice,” Nally said Tuesday.