Principal requires approval of high school paper's stories after rape culture article

The Fond du Lac Reporter

Student journalists at Fond du Lac High School in Wisconsin drew more than 2,000 signatures as of Thursday morning on their petition calling for a reversal of new guidelines requiring all stories to be approved by their principal.

Sharon Roznik reports that an article in the Cardinal Columns student publication prompted the administrative crackdown:

Written by Fond du Lac High School senior Tanvi Kumar, the investigative piece documents a prevailing rape culture within the school and its impact on students who are survivors of sexual abuse.

The piece features stories of three rape victims. Their names have been changed in the story.

According to Roznik, Principal Jon Wiltzius told the journalism classes that his job is to "oversee the global impact of everything that occurs within our school and I have to ensure I am representing everyone and there was some questionable content."

The petition is directed at Superintendent James Sebert, who is quoted as saying he had a problem with an inside cover picture of a woman "laying lifeless" in the middle of cardboard boxes. He told The Reporter by email that after reading the rape article, it raised questions in his mind "as to interference with the educational process, educational environment, and the rights of other students."

He also pointed to "graphic description" of the types of rape suffered by a student victim, a letter to the editor and an editorial that informs students they need not stand during the Pledge of Allegiance, calling all three questionable material for a student publication.

Kumar, who wrote the rape article, responded in a letter to Sebert. She said the story was "not false, defamatory, libelous, vulgar, or profane. Unless you view survivors of horrendous atrocities speaking out against a culture that oppresses them as 'profane,' or 'vulgar' rather than revolutionary or novel."


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