Reporters wishing to cover a sit-in at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., faced an unorthodox screening requirement. “We are asking that any journalists or press that cover our story participate and articulate their solidarity with black students and students of color,” an organizer of the event told “By taking a neutral stance, journalists and media are being complacent in our fight.”

The solidarity-articulation requirement had an impact. “Yeah, no, no — that wasn’t going to be something we obviously would ever agree to do,” said Ed Kubosiak, editor in chief of, a site that covers Massachusetts. “We didn’t agree to that demand and we were subsequently banned from the event,” he told the Erik Wemple Blog this afternoon.

Stacey Schmeidel, the college’s director of media relations, told this blog that the requirement had a thinning effect. “Reporters who came to campus for this and were confronted with the student rules were surprised by those rules. Some reporters heard what the students were saying and accepted it and left.” The articulation of solidarity, say Schmeidel and Kubosiak, was a strictly verbal affair; reporters were apparently not required to sign anything.

Schmeidel disputed’s contention that the college “supports the activists’ ban on media.” Instead, says Schmeidel, the college merely respects the autonomy of the students to set the rules for their own event. Smith is a private college.

The bar against unsympathetic media comes on the heels of a clash at the University of Missouri, where protesters staked out a “safe space” harbor/encampment from which they sought to keep media representatives. One student photographer, Tim Tai, a senior at the university, was shouted down in a videotaped encounter. A great deal of debate ensued.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette carried a comprehensive rundown of the sit-in. Reporter Katherine Hazen wrote that the event featured a sharing of stories. “Students came up one by one, and pensive silences followed. ‘Student workers are students — we are here to provide services, not to serve you,’ said senior Cynthia Gomez as she relayed her experience working in the Campus Café.” More: “Ariana Quinones reminded the crowd of the sit-in’s purpose. ‘Black lives matter, black lives matter, black lives matter, and that’s why we’re here,’ she said to much applause.”

We’ve asked a Daily Hampshire Gazette editor for an interview about how the paper dealt with access issues.