To the Editor:

Recently, I learned that some disgruntled members of our community may have removed copies of The Free Press from distribution sites on campus. The Free Press has reported this to both USM Police and to me. I have encouraged them to submit a report to USM’s conduct officer so that we may pursue that avenue of redress as well. It is important for everyone to know that taking a press run of The Free Press issues from sites on campus is theft and will be treated as such by USM Police and by the Office of Community Standards (Student Conduct).

Any of us who have been the object of press scrutiny know it is not always a pleasant experience, yet I am steadfastly committed to a free, open and responsible press. A free press is critical to the maintenance of our democracy and any attempt to censor or to disrupt the constitutionally protected free expression of ideas is antithetical to our foundation and beliefs.

Instead of removing The Free Press from our campus community, I encourage those wanting to express their ideas to engage the community in a dialog by either writing “letters to the Editor” or by planning a debate or forum. Regardless of how strongly we may disagree with one another, we all have a responsibility to ensure that our University is an open marketplace of ideas.

I thank The Free Press for the opportunity to comment on this important issue. I share their concern over the removal of the newspapers from campus.

Richard Pattenaude

USM President

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