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CWU student helps pass free speech bill

CWU student helps pass free speech bill

ELLENSBURG, Wash.- Washington State is now the 14th state to allow student journalists at high schools and colleges to write what they want without fear of administration retaliating.

A new law signed by Gov. Jay Inslee and a goal Central Washington University freshman and advocate Mariah Valles has been dreaming of for nearly four years.

"I heard horror stories of prior review, and I just really wanted to help people," said Valles.

Prior review allows school administration or anyone of authority outside of school editorial staff to read students articles before publication.

Valles spoke before the House Judiciary Committee in Olympia this year and voiced how censorship will hurt our future journalism leaders.

"I was always told that getting into good habits from the start is much better than having to correct bad habits later and getting used to censoring is definitely a bad habit and doesn't happen in the real world of journalism," said Valles.

Her passion on persistence lead her and other teachers, activist and student journalists to overrule a 1998 U.S. Supreme Court Ruling that made it legal for schools to allow prior review. Valles says this bill is needed more than ever to help protect our future journalist.

"We are in a time right now were the media is being attacked, and if we don't show student journalists what is right, and what to do, and how to preform and practice journalism, there won't be professional journalist who know the standards," said Valles.

Other advocates in the state spoke to the committee saying they've seen first hand what prior review has done, and it's a threat to the future on our society.

"This bill to protect young voices is timely, because freedom of expression is under attack across the globe. Our students must learn early and often about the value of truth and the rights and responsibilities of a free and open society," said Joanne Lisosky, Professor at Pacific Lutheran University.

Valles says she's pushed for this because everyone deserves to have their rights protected.

"It's our voices and if you stand up for what you believe in, big things can happen," said Valles.

Valles says she plans to continue speaking out on this bill for other states.

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