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UPDATE: Arbiter Declines Advertising from Creationist Groups, Issues Statement

Meanwhile, Boise State University has issued a statement in support of its student paper


UPDATE Thursday, Sept. 17, 10:45 a.m.: 

Boise State University's school newspaper The Arbiter published Sept. 15 an editorial explaining why it denied Creation Summit Inc. an ad in the paper. The ad would have been for an on-campus lecture having to do with creationism, to take place Sept. 14-15.

"When looking for ads for the paper, our sales team generally approaches our business manager and me when something may be seen as controversial," wrote Arbiter editor-in-chief (and former Boise Weekly intern) Justin Kirkham. 

He continued: "When approached by The Origin Summit, our sales and advertising manager, Phil Daily, combed through the group's website and found that many of their claims could be constructed as overly belligerent to our readership. After conferring with Daily, Connor Jones, student media business manager, decided not to run the ad."

Kirkham wrote in his editorial that he wasn't expecting to have a legal kickback from Creation Summit Inc., but he's confident that the decision was legally sound. 

"The Arbiter stands by its decision to not run an Origin Summit ad in the print production of the paper," he wrote. "As an organization striving to connect and inform students and the university community, it is imperative that this ideology is cemented and continued throughout our other advertising endeavors and will be reflected in an updated version of our advertising media kit."

ORIGINAL POST: Wednesday, Sept. 16, 4 a.m.:

Newspapers across the nation say "no" to some advertisers every day. That includes student newspapers.

"The law is clear on this. Student editors are empowered to use their editorial judgment in deciding what to print, and that includes ads," said Dr. Seth Ashley, assistant professor in the Boise State University Department of Communication and adviser to The Arbiter, the university's weekly student-managed publication.

Boise Weekly asked Ashley to weigh in on The Arbiter's recent refusal to sell advertising to Creation Summit Inc.; the Northwest Science Museum; and Engage Truth, an on-campus faith-based organization, which put on the "Origin Summit," a two-day event to promote creationism that took place Sept. 14-15.

"If the paper had said, 'Sorry, our ad space was all sold-out,' that would have been one thing. But that's not what they said. They told us that our content wasn't acceptable," said Creation Summit Executive Director Mike Smith.

Creation Summit, along with the Northwest Science Museum—a collection of skulls and fossils BW visited last year—and Engage Truth, whose spokesperson is an associate pastor at Boise's Calvary Chapel, had teamed up to promote the Origin Summit at the Boise State Special Events Center.

"We actually contacted The Arbiter at the beginning of the school year," said Doug Bennett, executive director of the Northwest Science Museum. "They told us, 'Due to content, we choose not to run your ad.'"

Creation Summit sent an email to Idaho media stating, "We have contacted an attorney and yes, the law is on our side."

However, guidelines from the Washington, D.C.-based Student Press Law Center stipulate, "Students are private individuals and can accept or reject ads for virtually any reason."

Boise State officials released a statement Sept. 8 in support of the student publication:

"Boise State University values and embraces the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution for student-run college newspapers. The student leaders at The Arbiter have the freedom and the responsibility to make decisions on both advertising and news content in the student paper."