Editor’s Letter: One bed, one bath, and one gag order

Student press counsel sent a letter to FAU outlining concerns surrounding the media policy.


Photo by Eston Parker III

Compensation as a resident assistant (RA) can include lowered tuition, a stipend, and perhaps even infringement on your First Amendment rights. 

On Dec. 5, 2022, we published a story regarding mold in the dorms. When we reached out to RAs they denied requests for comment or spoke under the condition of anonymity due to the fear of reprisal.

On March 3, News Editor Jessica Abramsky published a story regarding housing assignments and student reactions. She also reached out to RA’s for comment, but to avail. 

“It could be a probation letter or termination,” an RA, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said. 

Another RA said their operations coordinator “didn’t explicitly say they will put me on probation or fire me” but implied it.

On March 29, Lindsie Rank, Student Press Counsel for The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a non-profit that advocates for First Amendment freedoms, sent a letter to FAU outlining concerns. 

This is the second time FIRE has written to FAU concerning their disregard for the First Amendment, the exact same issues the UP is having now. 

In 2019, Owls Care students were informed of possible termination if they spoke to the press. Associate Vice President for Media Relations and Public Affairs Joshua Glanzer told the UP reporters they had to go through the media relations office for all interviews, and even had to conduct interviews via email while attaching Glanzer. FAU revised the policy in 2021. 

“Public universities are just that, public. The public has a right to know what’s going on on campus, and there’s no one better to give an on-the-ground report on the state of affairs than those with direct personal experience, like employees and students,” Rank wrote. “It’s imperative to a free society that these individuals have a right to speak, and, relatedly, that the public has a right to receive information, often using journalists as its conduit.”

The letter asks FAU to clarify employee freedoms, revise the policy, and implement training on employee rights. 

“When employees, including student employees, receive the message that they risk their employment if they speak to the press, this constitutes a prior restraint—‘the most serious and the least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights.’” Rank wrote in the letter. “When a policy or practice ‘chills potential speech before it happens,’ government employers, specifically, carry a heavy burden to demonstrate ‘reasonable ground to fear that serious evil will result if free speech is practiced.’”

FAU has two weeks to respond to the letter. 

University policy appears to be welcoming of the press, saying that employees are not required to have permission to speak to us. 

In January, the UP had a meeting with Glanzer and he said it was “easier for everyone,” if the UP went through the media relations office when asking for interviews. We have noticed that Glanzer only responds to certain UP reporters when their stories do not cover controversial topics. 

The UP requested a meeting with Donavan Diaz, FAU’s chief compliance and ethics officer, after learning of potential wrongdoing from FAU Bookstore. The request was sent to Glanzer, who failed to connect the UP with Diaz, in a chain of dozens of emails. Glanzer canceled interviews twice on short notice and then did not reply to requests for rescheduling. 

On Feb. 28, the UP contacted Glanzer to speak about the RA issue and he did not respond. 

We want to hear from you, RA’s. Contact the UP at [email protected] and we will protect your identity. Don’t let FAU continue to silence you. 

Savannah Peifer is the Editor-in-Chief for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or DM her on Instagram @ginger.savvy.

Jessica Abramsky is the News Editor for the University Press. For more information on this article or others, you can reach Jess at [email protected] or DM her on Instagram @jessabramsky.