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University Daily Kansan editors sue KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little over First Amendment claims

Editors of the University Daily Kansan student newspaper in Lawrence sued University of Kansas officials over a recent funding cut. The suit was filed in federal court Friday.
Editors of the University Daily Kansan student newspaper in Lawrence sued University of Kansas officials over a recent funding cut. The suit was filed in federal court Friday.

The editor-in-chief of the University Daily Kansan has sued University of Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, saying the student newspaper’s funding was cut because of its coverage.

Gray-Little and Tammara Durham, vice provost for student affairs, were named in the suit filed Friday in federal court. The suit says a $45,000 annual reduction in student fees for the newspaper was retaliation for an editorial criticizing the Student Senate.

Kansan editor Vicky Diaz-Camacho and former editor Katie Kutsko brought the suit, alleging that student government leaders, in a series of February meetings on Kansan funding, complained about a May 2014 editorial before voting to cut the newspaper’s funding. A Student Senate committee member allegedly said the funding cut was a chance for the Kansan to “fix their content.”

In later meetings, a Student Senate member allegedly said the newspaper “bit the hand that fed” it and the staff “got what you deserved,” according to the suit. The Kansan is funded by student activity fees and the sale of advertising.

The Student Press Law Center, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that gives legal advice to student publications, told KU officials the funding cuts were unconstitutional.

KU officials could not immediately be reached for comment Friday night.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction against the administrators to stop the funding cut, plus attorney fees and “nominal” damages.

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