It took just a week.
Jaclyn Hirsch, president of Quinnipiac University’s chapter of the national Society of Professional Journalists, said this weekend that the Quinnipiac administration officially retracted its threat to ban the SPJ chapter from campus in a letter sent to her last week. The administration also repealed its ban of Quad News interviews of administrators, coaches and student-athletes, which had effectively crippled the Web site’s news coverage for weeks.
The administration’s letter came a week after the editorial board of The New York Times lambasted Quinnipiac officials for sending a letter containing the threat to Hirsch in September. The Times’s editorial board also criticized the administrators for not retracting their letter once the national SPJ organization demanded an explanation for it in mid-September.
Hirsch confirmed in a telephone interview over the weekend that she received the letter last week.
The latest letter effectively repeals a September memo by Quinnipiac Student Center Director Daniel Brown, who stated that the SPJ chapter could lose its “recognition status” if it continued to interact with the Quad News. Brown wrote the letter after the SPJ helped publicize the independent news Web site Quad News to students at a university club fair. Students since then have said that the two groups no longer interact with each other, even though Hirsch is also a managing editor of the Quad News.
And for months, the administration had refused to allow interviews with the Quad News. But school officials have now eased interview restrictions, suggesting further steps to de-escalate the situation in the future.
Quad News editor-in-chief Jason Braff said he is “excited” about the easing of interview rules. But the administration, he added, can be unpredictable.
“It’s difficult to understand some decisions that were made,” Braff said, “but things have been getting better with us.”
The new letter is an attempt by the Quinnipiac administration to finally quiet a small national scandal that erupted from campus shortly after the News first broke the story of the September letter and reached the ears of international bloggers, The Associated Press and ultimately, The Times.
In the Times piece, the editorial board said that the administrators should take the “necessary step” to withdraw Brown’s September letter in writing.
After publication, the editorial, as well as the A.P. story published the previous weekend, triggered a frenzy of national media speculation.
Quinnipiac professors and national journalism experts have said over the year that the administration could have prevented the story from reaching the national stage. Because national media organizations did not learn of the story for several weeks after the September letter was sent, they said the administration could have issued a retraction earlier.
Quinnipiac Vice President for Public Affairs Lynn Bushnell has not responded to multiple requests for comment over the last week. But two days after the Times editorial, a school spokesperson told a local television station, WTNH, that officials had withdrawn their threat against the SPJ.
Perhaps, some Quinnipiac professors said this weekend, the scandal has at last come to a close.
Andrew Bartholomew contributed reporting from Hamden.