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Kansas Bill Says University Professors Can't Use Titles When Writing Newspaper Columns

Rep. Joe Seiwert speaking about the bill. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

Two Kansas Lawmakers are defending a bill that would bar university professors from using their professional titles when writing newspaper columns.

Republican Representatives Virgil Peck and Joe Seiwert (SIGH-wert) spoke in favor of the bill before a House committee. Both say they have been unfairly covered by the media and criticized following introduction of the legislation.

Seiwert says he supports the bill because a constituent was offended by newspaper columns he read. Seiwert has concerns that professors are using the university’s brand when offering opinions about policy or candidates.

“And with that comes credibility. So if you make a negative statement about policy or legislative people, I think that puts a little more credence to it,” says Seiwert.

Seiwert is offering an amendment that would allow professors to use their university title if they have permission from the school.

The bill seems to be aimed at Insight Kansas, a group of university professors that write newspaper columns about Kansas politics.

Mark Desetti, with the Kansas National Education Association, spoke against the bill. He’s concerned it’s a slippery slope and public school teachers or administrators could be the next target if they write anything critical of Kansas government.

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