NTU students to hold ‘Stand Up For Media Freedom On Campus’ outreach event at Speaker’s Corner, Hong Lim Park
4:30 – 6:00 p.m., Sunday, 5th October 2008.
A group of NTU students and alumni will be protesting against NTU’s recent censorship of a campus newspaper article, described by a university professor as “totally harmless”.
They will be using the Speaker’s Corner as a platform to publicise their views about the importance of greater press freedom and the marketplace of ideas, particularly in an institution of higher learning such as the university.
Attempts to air their views within campus got vetoed in a manner similar to the initial news censorship; given how this group cares for freedom of information, it will now seek a public platform to respond and spread awareness.
On the 26th and 28th of August, Dr Chee Soon Juan, Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), visited NTU to distribute flyers and interact with the students as part of a tour to “raise political awareness”.
The Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information's (WKWSCI) print and video broadcast media covered the event. However, both were soon axed by the university’s administration. The video broadcast was aired within the university’s TV network for three days – before it was ordered to be taken off air; the print article – initially approved to run by NTU’s president – got the cut just before it was due for print. A WKWSCI professor described the print report as “totally harmless”.
This censorship angered many WKWSCI students, especially those who had produced the various media reports. One subsequent protest banner erected on a designated exhibition space within WKWSCI was taken down by university security personnel within an hour; a student journalist’s news article about the response to the media blackout was prematurely cut as well.
In this climate, the group of WKWSCI students and alumni felt that their very education is being compromised. They are now questioning the veracity of what they were taught in class: the critical debate of ideas, the role of freedom of information in rigorous journalism training.
They will make a series of speeches mainly to:
1. Raise awareness on this issue for both the public and the university population
2. Talk about the experience of having a neutral news article cut for fear of its subject
3. State their values and stand on press freedom
4. What they have done thus far regarding this issue, and what they hope to see regarding higher levels of freedom of information in the future
5. Highlight how this incident has undermined the very education that the University hopes to provide to students
6. Engage university or school professors if possible