Live at the Library Explores Censorship of Student Press
Posted by William Nunnelley on 2012-10-16
By Drew Laing
Samford University alumnus and former Crimson editor Randall Williams was honored at Samford's Live @ the Library during Homecoming weekend Oct. 13.
Williams, who is the editor-in-chief of NewSouth Books of Montgomery, Ala., which he co-founded with publisher Suzanne La Rosa in 2000, is known for his censorship dispute with then-Samford president Leslie Wright.
When Williams was in the process of registering for senior year classes in the 1970s, he was informed that his scholarship had been revoked, forcing him to leave Samford 10 credits shy of graduating.
A 30-minute documentary film titled Another Voice, which was created by Samford journalism and mass communication professor Jon Clemmensen, was featured at the Homecoming event. The movie chronicled the controversy surrounding Williams as well as his publication of an independent student newspaper, Another Voice.
After Williams left Samford, the journalism and mass communication major was disbanded and merged into the English department as a minor. It wasn't until 1985 that the journalism and mass communication department was brought back after the hiring of Clemmensen.
"[Dr. Thomas Corts and I] had a gentlemen's agreement if I were to teach the principles of journalism, students should be able to freely practice those principles," Clemmensen said about his hiring in 1985.
Looking back on the controversy, Williams said he had two regrets about what transpired.
"I regret that it cost Richmond Brown (Samford's student media advisor) his job and I regret that it caused the journalism and mass communication department into a side drawer for a period of time," Williams said.
The journalism and mass communication department has recovered, and now enrolls the highest number of students of any department within the Howard College of Arts and Sciences.
Williams, who has gone on to lead a successful career in journalism, returned to Samford in 2010 to finish up his senior year and graduated in May 2011.
ABOUT SAMFORD UNIVERSITY -- Samford University is a premier nationally ranked private university deeply rooted in its Christian mission. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th oldest institution of higher education in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 3rd among regional universities in the South. Samford enrolls 5,509 students from 45 states, the District of Columbia and 29 other countries in its 10 academic units: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy, and public health. Samford also fields 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference.