The Orange Street News is reporting that the father of a preschool student won’t be able to attend his son’s graduation ceremony, because he was (falsely) accused of creeping around the campus of Susquehanna University, where the ceremony is being held.
The news report was filed online this morning by Hilde Kate Lysiak, who reports for and publishes the Orange Street News in her hometown of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, about 50 miles north of Harrisburg. She’s 9 years old and a third grader, but due to her father’s career as a news reporter in New York, she has experienced the rush of chasing down news stories.
The crime beat is a particular favorite, although she took some heat from critics about a possible homicide she scooped up last weekend in Selinsgrove. She responds to adults who think she’s too cute to be a real journalist and points her 9-year-old flare straight at people who would suppress free speech, saying, “If you want me to stop covering news, then you get off your computers and do something about the news.”
The present story about a dad’s right to attend his son’s preschool graduation has First Amendment implications concerning the right of people to peaceably assemble, such as at a graduation ceremony, especially since reports suggest the right was taken away from him without due process.
The father and other members of the Peterson family were driving around campus in September, looking for their dog, which had run away. Residents reported a van with suspicious-looking people driving around, and Mr Peterson was subsequently told to stay off campus.
“This is ridiculous,” the Orange Street News quoted Candice Peterson, the boy’s mother, as saying. “My husband has the right to be there for his own son’s preschool graduation.”
The legal issue comes in the middle of what has been a particularly rough week at Susquehanna. Emma Cook, a 19-year-old student, died unexpectedly at the end of March, and the university decided last fall that its mascot, the Crusaders, might offend some people and needed to be changed. The university changed its mascot to the “River Hawks” a few days ago over objections from several alumni.