Abby Spudich, former managing editor, and Travis Cornejo, former editor-in-chief, said they have been notified by the MU Office of Student Conduct to schedule hearings related to possible violations of the university's standards of conduct.
Spudich resigned from The Maneater staff on Tuesday, and Cornejo stepped down Wednesday afternoon.
"There has been contact, and there will be a hearing in regards to disciplinary action," Spudich said. "I'd like to know my rights before I start any type of hearing."
Cornejo said he has been reviewing the M-Book, a rules and regulations book for MU, in order to prepare himself for a hearing and better understand any violations that could have occurred.
He said he is waiting to learn more during a preliminary meeting with a representative from the MU Office of Student Conduct.
After reading the conduct procedure, Spudich said she is aware that expulsion is a possible outcome.
"I don't know what I would do if I were expelled," Spudich said. "I don't know how I would be able to move forward."
Adam Goldstein, attorney advocate for the Student Press Law Center, said expulsion should not be an option in a matter of free speech.
"The First Amendment gives you a civil right to be derogatory and profane," Goldstein said. "As a public entity, if the university took steps to discipline speech that is protected by the First Amendment, they could open the university up to a lawsuit for civil rights violation."
Goldstein said that although people are allowed to be upset, the state cannot discipline individuals for speech that is legal.
According to the procedure outlined on the Office of Student Conduct website, a hearing would be led by the Student Conduct Committee, the "body on each campus which is authorized to conduct hearings and to make dispositions under these procedures."
During a hearing, students have a defined set of rights, including the right to be present and the opportunity to have an adviser or counselor present for consultation, according to the rules of procedure.
Students also have an opportunity to question any testifying witnesses present and make any statement to the committee or explanation for the conduct in question.
The rules list the following evidence that may be available for examination:
- University evidence: University witnesses are called upon or written reports of evidence are identified. Then, the committee may question any witnesses. With permission, the student or adviser or counselor may question the presented evidence.
- Student evidence: If the student has not chosen to do so earlier, he or she may now elect to make a statement to the committee about the charge. Then, the student may present evidence through witnesses or written memoranda. Questioning of the witness or evidence may occur at any time by the committee.
- Rebuttal evidence: The committee may allow the student or University to offer rebuttal of the other's presentation.
At noon Wednesday, Cornejo posted an apology and letter of resignation on The Maneater's website. Despite being unaware of the content in the April 1 edition, he said he was "not wholly without blame." He said he had been consulted about ad placement inside the issue.
He also said he struggled with making a public statement about the matter to avoid "finger-pointing toward Abby." However, he accepted a measure of responsibility.
"I apologize if my lack of response came across as an apathetic attitude toward the matter of our April Fool's edition and for my actions in regard to the placement of advertisements inside the issue," Cornejo wrote.
In an interview Wednesday, he said his actions were not what his editorial board wanted or expected of him.
"I felt it would be what would be best for myself and the newspaper to resign," he said.
On Tuesday afternoon, the MU Student Publications Committee met with Cornejo to discuss the situation.
According to its web page, the committee is appointed by the chancellor "to recommend to the vice chancellor for Student Affairs policies and regulations regarding the publication of the Maneater."
The committee comprises four faculty members, four Missouri Student Association student members, one Graduate Professional Council member, three ex officio and one support member.
"The meeting was held with various faculty and student members on the board in order to discuss the April Fools' edition and make recommendations as to what should happen," Cornejo said.
Stephen Lombardo, chairman of the committee, did confirm the resignation of Spudich and Cornejo, but he did not discuss the meeting further.
"I'm not really sure what The Maneater's next step is now that I've removed myself from the official capacity," Cornejo said. "It's up to the newspaper's staff to decide the remaining steps through the continuation of the year."
MU Chancellor Brady Deaton wrote a letter to the editor, which was published by The Maneater, denouncing the edition and urging the campus to treat others "with respect and dignity."
"The Maneater staff is taking responsibility for its actions. It is our responsibility as a community to work together to become a more civil and respectful Mizzou. My commitment is unwavering," Deaton wrote.