Tuesday afternoon, September 8, Boise State officials sent out a statement regarding The Arbiter's decision not to accept an advertisement promoting the "Origin Summit" event, sponsored by organizations supporting creationism:
"Boise State University values and embraces the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution for student-run college newspapers. The student leaders at The Arbiter have the freedom and the responsibility to make decisions on both advertising and news content in the student paper."
ORIGINAL STORY: September 8, 2015 12 p.m.
Newspapers across the nation say "no" to some advertisers every day. That includes student newspapers.
"The law is clear on this. Student editors are empowered to use their editorial judgment in deciding what to print, and that includes ads," said Dr. Seth Ashley, assistant professor in the Boise State University Department of Communication and adviser to The Arbiter, the university's weekly student-managed publication.
Boise Weekly asked Ashley to weigh in on The Arbiter's refusal to sell advertising to three groups: Creation Summit Inc., the Northwest Science Museum and Engage Truth, an on campus faith-based organization, which are promoting the "Origin Summit," a two-day event to promote creationism.
"If the paper had said, 'Sorry, our ad space was all sold-out,' that would have been one thing. But that's not what they said. They told us that our content wasn't acceptable," said Creation Summit Executive Director Mike Smith, from the organization's Oklahoma headquarters. "But they never saw an ad. They saw our website and made a decision based on that."
The organization's website reads,"We may have been banned from the classroom, but banned does not mean silenced. By booking the speakers and renting the facilities, we still have an impact."
Creation Summit, along with the Northwest Science Museum—a collection of skulls and fossils BW visited last year—and Engage Truth, whose spokesperson is is an associate pastor at Boise's Calvary Chapel, have teamed up to promote the Origin Summit at the Boise State Special Events Center on the evenings of Monday, Sept. 14 and Tuesday, Sept. 15.
"We actually contacted The Arbiter at the beginning of the school year," said Doug Bennett, executive director of the Northwest Science Museum. "They told us, 'Due to content, we choose not to run your ad."
In the meantime, Creation Summit sent an email to Idaho media stating, "We have contacted an attorney and yes, the law is on your side."
However, guidelines from the Washington, D.C.-based Student Press Law Center stipulate, "Students are private individuals and can accept or reject ads for virtually any reason."
Additionally, Ashley pointed to the United States Constitution.
"The First Amendment right resides with the press in this case," he said.
Meanwhile, Boise State officials were still huddling on the matter.
"We first heard about this when Boise Weekly contacted us this morning," said Jeremiah Shinn, vice president of Student Affairs.
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