Student adviser fired from ECU appeals termination on First Amendment grounds

Paul Isom, who was fired as East Carolina University’s student media adviser after the college paper published photos of a streaker, is appealing his termination on free speech grounds. The deadline to appeal is today, but Isom said he sent a letter Wednesday asking for an extension because he hasn’t received all of the emails the university has unearthed related to his employment.

Contrary to a recent editorial in the local newspaper stating that the school hasn’t allowed him to review the documents, Isom said he gets about one batch of emails a week. “The last batch I got, I was told there were more, but they didn’t tell me how much or when I’d get them,” he said in a phone interview.

Isom said he won’t decide whether he’ll allow the documents to be released until he sees everything. So far, though, he hasn’t come across anything that would cause him to withhold them.

He still believes that he was fired because of the streaker photos. “If anything, I think it more now than the day it happened,” he said, adding that “a good 50 percent” of everything he’s reviewed relates to the streaker.

“They’ve never told me I was fired for personnel reasons,” he said. “They’ve only insinuated that to reporters, which is hardly the same thing. I asked specifically why I was fired, and they said, because they were going in a different direction with student media.”

Related: Former managing editor of Charlotte Observer to advise ECU student newspaper (East Carolina University) || Earlier: NPPA asks university to reinstate ousted student adviser (Poynter) | Fellow journalism profs support fired student newspaper adviser (Poynter)

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