Censorship lesson and case study: Fond du Lac
Censorship Case Study
by Jeff Kocur
A case study on the Fond du Lac High School Cardinal Column’s censorship by administration after the publishing of an article on a rape culture at the school. The study involves censorship of Fond du Lac High School’s by administration after the publishing of an article on a rape culture at the school. Students examine the application of the First Amendment to high school students and evaluate and hypothesize what they might do if faced with a similar situation.
• Students will examine the application of the First Amendment to high school students
• Students will discuss the censorship of a high school publication.
• Students will evaluate and hypothesize what they would do if they were in a similar situation.
Common Core State Standards
•Informational text; Integration of knowledge and ideas
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
• Informational text; Integration of knowledge and ideas
Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. texts, including the application of constitutional principlesand use of legal reasoning (e.g., in U.S. Supreme Court majority opinions and dissents) and the premises, purposes, and arguments in works of public advocacy (e.g., The Federalist, presidential addresses).
100 minutes (Two 50-minute classes)
Materials / resources
• Handout 1
• Handout 2
• Rape Culture Coverage
For more information about the situation:
• Article on the issue
• Student Press Law Center with links to story
• Article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
1. Background — 3 minutes
Teacher should either talk through or project the following:
Summation of issue:
Students at the Cardinal Columns, the student run newspaper at Fond Du Lac High School in Fond Du Lac, Wisc., were compelled to write a piece in the February issue about a rape culture at their school. The Editor-in-Chief, Tanvi Kumar told the Student Press Law Center the following.
“We are so saturated in a society that tolerates and even condones objectification of women and sexualizes them to be less than human beings,” Kumar said. “I think a lot of that … contributes to rape jokes and rape culture, and it’s not something that I could see going under the radar anymore.”
After the article was published, the principal, Jon Wiltzius, enacted a school board policy on the books, but not in practice, that would require the students to submit their paper to him prior to publication. He censored a photo on the cover of the next issue that was critical of the new policy.
2. Opening question — 2 minutes
Ask the students “What if this happened at your school?”
Teacher note: A healthy, mutual understanding of the First Amendment between your staff and your administrator would likely make this a non-issue, but not all schools are that lucky. You may want to share the First Amendment with the students as well.
3. Reading the article — 25 minutes
Teacher should pass out the article. Students should read the coverage in its entirety.
4. Pair work — 15 minutes
Teacher should pass out “Handout 1.” Students could work on the sheet in pairs.
If students have not finished the handout, ask them to do it for homework.
1. Recap — 5 minutes
Ask students to “remind you” of what they read about the day before.
2. Large group discussion — 15 minutes
Teacher should ask each group to report their answers. Teacher should facilitate the discussion.
3. Small group work — 15 minutes
Ask each pair to partner with another pair. Pass out “Handout 2.” Students should answer the questions from the sheet.
4. Large group discussion — 15 minutes
Again, teacher should ask each group to report their answers. Teacher should facilitate the discussion.
If students would like more information on the Fond du Lac censorship, they should access the articles listed in the resources section.