The North Wind scandal has officially left the campus of Northern Michigan University and into federal court.
This morning, April 16, Cheryl Reed and Michael Williams filed suit against NMU vice president Steven Neiheisel and the four student members of North Wind Board of Directors, including chairperson Aubrey Kall, Eric Laksonen, Troy Morris and Pearl Gaidelis. The defendants voted against the re-approval to journalistic adviser Reed and the hiring of Williams for editor in chief.
“(Reed and I) never wanted to take it to this level unless absolutely necessary,” Williams said. “But after the last (North Wind Board of Directors’ meeting), the attorneys mocked up a (legal) narrative and it made perfect sense. You can just see this time line of events for our case.”
That timeline was turned into a 49-point declaration that was filed electronically along with North Wind articles, bylaws and reviews by the board and NMU’s English Department as exhibits.
The declaration went back months to include stories that weren’t controversial in the local market including two sexual assault stories that sparked conflict between Neiheisel and Reed. Reed said that the conflict with Neiheisel created conflict in the work environment.
“It made the job difficult,” Reed said. “I had no problem with my students about FOIA, censorship or prior restraint issues. Trying to educate an administrator with a PhD that students have the same rights as the writers at professional papers and for someone on the board to not understand that was very discouraging.”
Northern Michigan does not typically comment on issues while in active legal issues, but assistant vice president of identity, brand and marketing Derek Hall released a statement through email.
“Now with pending litigation, the University will not be making statements regarding the lawsuit,” the statement said. “We will be working with the University’s legal counsel to move forward.”
Paul McAdoo represents Reed and Williams. McAdoo specializes in media law and is currently representing the Detroit Free Press in a case against the University of Michigan.
Marquette Social Scene continues to cover the North Wind Scandal. For more information and past articles, click HERE.