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Cal State Dominguez Weekly Publishes a Day Early : Student Newspaper Defies Policy, Endorses Cranston

November 06, 1986|JULIO MORAN | Times Staff Writer

CARSON — The student newspaper at California State University, Dominguez Hills, this week joined at least 10 other student newspapers in the Cal State system in defying a policy that prohibits them from endorsing political candidates.

The Dominguez Weekly came out on Tuesday--a day earlier than usual--with an unsigned endorsement of U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston.

'Wouldn't Do Any Good'

"It wouldn't do any good to endorse him (Wednesday)," said Ed Hamilton, 41, editor of the 5,000-circulation tabloid, which gets half of its annual $30,000 budget from the university.

Hamilton said that last week, after Cal State Fullerton broke the rule by endorsing Tom Bradley for governor, he was contacted by editors at other student newspapers to see whether Dominguez Hills planned any endorsements.

The paper had not planned any, he said, but editors met Saturday and decided to defy the policy, which prohibits publicly state-supported universities from taking political positions in unsigned editorials.

The editors then discussed what races to take a stand on and settled on the Senate battle. "Cranston was one person we could all agree on."

Hamilton said he told Leonard Lee, chairman of the Communications Department, of his plan to ignore the policy.

Hamilton said Lee advised him against it, but said Lee told him he would support whatever position Hamilton decided. Lee could not be reached for comment.

"I certainly feel strongly that it (the restriction) is a restriction on freedom of the press," Hamilton said.

Jeff Stetson, acting director of public affairs for the state university system, said campus presidents have been advised not to discipline student editors who violate the policy until a lawsuit filed by a former Humboldt State student editor who was fired two years ago for publishing an unsigned endorsement is resolved.

No Specific Penalty

Stetson said the ban has the force of state law but does not carry a specific penalty for violation. Campus presidents, he said, are free to decide what disciplinary action to impose.

Stetson said a settlement of the lawsuit is expected within 10 days and probably will change the system's ban on the student newspapers taking political stands.

"We're optimistic that there will be a revision . . ." Stetson said. "The bottom line would certainly be some kind of disclaimer or specific reference within the editorial that suggests that the views expressed in the editorials are the views of the editors and not necessarily the views of the students or the institution."

At least 10 other student newspapers at state universities from Humboldt State in northern California to San Diego State took political stands in recent editions.

Stetson said the only student editor that has been disciplined over the editorials was the one at San Diego State, who was suspended for 24 hours.

Times Staff Writer Gabe Fuentes contributed to this story.

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