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Campus newspapers reject conservative writers to protect 'personal safety,' stop kink-shaming

Dartmouth Republicans leader turned down for every role at Ivy League newspaper for unspecified behavior at Project Veritas event she hosted.

Published: January 27, 2023 9:36pm

Updated: January 29, 2023 11:35pm

Chloe Ezzo has been published in The Wall Street Journal and won several writing and poetry awards in high school, but the Dartmouth Republicans president can't score any position on America's oldest college newspaper, allegedly because staffers are afraid of her.

Logan Dubil said he got kicked off Point Park University's student paper for riling up colleagues by criticizing LGBTQ pandering in Star Wars and his "misogynistic" complaint about a headline change, among other offenses.

John Parker got erased from his own column criticizing the increasing sexualization of campus life at Syracuse University after the Daily Orange editors publicly denounced him for kink-shaming. He didn't last long either.

The new sensitivities in college journalism are causing headaches for right-of-center applicants and staffers, whose viewpoints and associations are sometimes deemed inherently disqualifying, even for opinion writing.

A handful of scorned writers who know each other through Campus Reform, a conservative college news website, showed Just the News their communications with editors and shared their perceptions of the conflicts. Ezzo polled them after her experience at The Dartmouth.

Staffers who question progressive orthodoxy have long risked opprobrium internally but also from the student governments that fund the publications, particularly since the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Wesleyan University's Argus sided with activists over a columnist who chided the young BLM movement in 2015, but still faced repeated defunding attempts and newspaper theft for publishing the column.

Ezzo scored a spot in WSJ's Future View column with two other college students earlier this month and has published widely in college, from Campus Reform to New Hampshire's biggest newspaper.

Her reputation as DRs president cast a shadow, however, when Ezzo applied for a range of positions at The Dartmouth (including opinion, news, sports and arts ) and its culture magazine, Mirror. 

The club is known nationally for fighting a $3,600 security fee for a campus event with Portland-based Antifa chronicler Andy Ngo that the administration abruptly moved online, citing unspecified "credible threats" that local police didn't back up. The DRs later threatened to sue the student government for alleged discrimination. 

But it was the DRs' event last spring with James O'Keefe of Project Veritas, which recently exposed purported Pfizer plans to tinker with SARS-CoV-2 to perpetuate its "cash cow" treatments, that editor Emily Lu told Ezzo had doomed her chances.

Echoing the administration's explanation for the Ngo decision, Lu said in mid-January that newspaper staffers feared for their "personal safety" around Ezzo based on "your treatment" of them at the O'Keefe event, and refused to explain further when pressed for details.

This doesn't fly for Ezzo because "the whole event is on film and there were police officers present," she told Just the News, describing the audience as mostly elderly. The newspaper had run multiple "hit pieces" on the club since she took the reins, and while Ezzo joked it was "fake news" at the event, reporters were invited to grill O'Keefe.

"I have no idea how any of that could be construed as threatening," Ezzo said. Rather than give her a credible reason for rejection, "they instead felt the need to make up this fake story." 

Campus security has no record of a report against her around that time, Ezzo said. Lu didn't respond to queries to explain the "personal safety" concerns she cited.

Point Park University's Globe staffers dubbed Dubil "homophobic" for criticizing "Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker" for "throwing in the lesbian kiss scene" rather than "committing to LGBTQ characters," he told Just the News. The Hollywood Reporter made the same complaint.

Editor-in-chief Jordyn Hronec responded indignantly when Dubil complained the Globe replaced his suggested "non-controversial" headline with a perceived inflammatory one for his column about then-vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris without telling him.

"Telling me what I 'need to understand' and questioning my decisions as a leader is extremely offensive, and it honestly comes across as being quite misogynistic," she wrote in a lengthy email, calling herself the "boss" and him an "employee."

A trio of Globe staffers also called Dubil into a meeting and repeatedly called him racist for submitting a column defending then-President Trump's so-called Muslim ban, Dubil said. He didn't record it because of Pennsylvania's two-party consent law. Hronec didn't respond to queries about the incidents.

Syracuse's Parker told Just the News The Daily Orange didn't ask him before removing his name from a column on the proliferation of "inappropriate sexual events" including "Kink 101" seminars and drag shows, which Parker considers stereotypical to LGBTQ people. 

Campus Reform reported at the time that the paper immediately faced complaints for running the column, and it published an apology a day later.

The column now includes an editor's note acknowledging its "hateful speech that harms and disrespects our readers and our community." Parker said the newspaper fired him a week later, after he asked a few times "what was going on." 

The Daily Orange added a separate disclaimer at the bottom noting a paragraph had been removed to "protect" a drag performer who had appeared in an earlier report. It removed Parker's name "to prevent them from receiving backlash." The paper didn't answer Just the News queries.

Florida Southern University's newspaper turned on freshman Sasha Kek, who had high school experience in hard news, when she joined the Young Americans for Freedom chapter after writing a profile of the nascent conservative club, she told Just the News. 

The Southern news editor "wrote a very demonizing piece" about the club after she tabled on anticommunism and cultural appropriation, and told Kek she had to go because her YAF affiliation put the paper in a "controversial light," she said. The newspaper didn't answer queries about whether this was a policy across the newspaper or only applied to specific groups.

Kek pointed Just the News to The Southern's constitution. One line says: "Writers will avoid bias, except as decided by the Opinions section editor in regards to their section solely." But it doesn't flesh out what that means in practice or provide a removal process. Kek said she hasn't been at the paper long enough to know if anyone else was removed for their affiliation.

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