A First Amendment battle is not what Western Carolina University senior Justin Caudell expected when he returned to campus this fall. But Caudell, who is editor-in-chief of the school’s student newspaper, the Western Carolinian, found himself on the other side of the interview more than once in recent weeks.

University administrators shuttered the publication for five days in late September as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of plagiarism by three of its writers, including Caudell. Fellow college publications and other student media advocates rallied in defense of Western’s student paper.

Though The Sylva Herald and the Western Carolinian are still at odds about whether plagiarism occurred this summer, The Smoky Mountain News conducted its own investigation into the claims that led university officials to open the inquiry that temporarily closed the paper.

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