What Georgia Tech asked a student to change in his ‘Cop City’ reporting

A banner hangs in the South River Forest in a campground that the protesters call "The Living Room." (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

Alex Ip is the editor-in-chief of the independent news site The Xylom and an environmental engineering undergraduate student at Georgia Tech Institute of Technology.

On Wednesday’s edition of “Closer Look,” Ip talked with show host Rose Scott about his work of fact-checking what the City of Atlanta called “myths” about the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center.  

Ip further explained the findings of his report and talked about being asked by staff from Georgia Tech’s “Serve-Learn-Sustain” (SLS), to write a first-hand reflection for SLS’s newsletter and the university’s website about his reporting on the proposed $90-million police and fire training facility.

“I wrote two paragraphs and I shared some links about my reporting and also a report that I edited that was written by a former Georgia Tech faculty,” said Ip.   

The budding journalist said everything was fine at first, but shortly after his summary was published in the newsletter, he says he was asked by Georgia Tech’s communications department to revise his online post or it would be taken down.

The “Closer Look” team reached out to Georgia Tech. Please find its response below:

“Georgia Tech holds the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and the right to assemble peaceably as an essential cornerstone to the advancement of knowledge and the right of a free people. Georgia Tech remains firmly committed to affording every member of the Institute community the opportunity to engage in peaceful and orderly exercise of these rights. We protect the freedom of all members of our community to ask questions, seek truth, and express their views.  

Information shared on Georgia Tech websites is, by law, equivalent to being the voice of Georgia Tech and by extension, the State of Georgia. As such, we must be vigilant that content on our websites reflects Georgia Tech’s official views, and we must distinguish institutional speech from individual speech.  While we remain committed to being an open campus community that invites the free sharing and exchange of ideas, we must reserve Georgia Tech’s online resources for promoting our mission and values. 

To be clear, no one from Georgia Tech asked the student to change the substance of his blog post. In fact, we continue to link to the student’s post and media site from the site where his story was originally posted. In accordance with policy, it is not appropriate to duplicate the student’s blog post, contents, or parts of it on a Georgia Tech website.”

Our online resource ownership control and use policy is here. More on our commitment to freedom of expression is here