College censorship in brief

Two college papers challenge state regulation prohibiting alcohol ads VIRGINIA -- Two college student newspapers are challenging the constitutionality of a Virginia state regulation that prohibits college student publications from publishing alcohol ads.The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia filed a lawsuit in a federal district court in Richmond in June on behalf of the Collegiate Times, student newspaper at Virginia Tech, and The Cavalier Daily, student newspaper at the University of Virginia. The lawsuit seeks to overturn Virginia Administrative Code Section 5-20-40, arguing it violates students' First Amendment rights.The regulation prohibits any advertisements that mention alcohol in ''college student publications'' unless they are ''in reference to a dining establishment.'' It defines ''college student publication'' as one that is edited and published primarily by students, is sanctioned by a college or university and ''which is distributed or intended to be distributed primarily to persons under 21 years of age.''The state attorney general's office, in its response filed in July, argued that to the extent the code regulates constitutionally protected speech, it is constitutional because it ''advances a substantial governmental interest.''Rebecca Glenberg, lead attorney for the ACLU of Virginia, expressed reserved optimism due to a 2004 decision in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that a similar law in Pennsylvania violated the First Amendment.''Of course it's always impossible to predict these things,'' Glenberg said. ''But I feel we have a strong case and that the 3rd Circuit case is enormously helpful and should be very persuasive precedent to courts.'' Restricting off-campus groups to five speeches unconstitutional, court rulesARKANSAS -- Administrators at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville have revised their facilities use policy, opting not to appeal a decision out of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals deeming part of the old policy unconstitutional. The 8th Circuit ruled in April that a policy placing a five-day cap on the number of days an off-campus group can use school facilities violated a non-student speaker's First Amendment rights.The university has already instituted a new policy and has elected not to appeal the case, said Bill Kincaid, associate general counsel, in an e-mail.Gary Bowman, an Oklahoma-based preacher, filed the lawsuit alleging the university's policies regarding off-campus groups' use of school facilities violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, according to an article in Inside Higher Ed, an online education news source.The university argued that a five-day cap would promote diversity among speakers and would ensure that no one speaker could have a monopoly on the use of school land. The court disagreed, stating, ''The policy written does not by itself foster more viewpoints; it merely limits Bowman's speech.''The court did uphold several other parts of the facilities use policy, including requiring off-campus groups to obtain a permit at least three days in advance, according to the ruling. A ban on any speakers coming to campus during ''dead days'' -- days when final examinations take place -- was also upheld. Case: Bowman v. White, 444 F.3d 967 (8th Cir. 2006)Community college fined for airing PBS documentaryCALIFORNIA -- A television station licensed through the San Mateo County Community College District could be punished for airing a Martin Scorsese-produced blues documentary if the Federal Communications Commission has its way.The FCC fined the KCSM-TV PBS station $15,000 after receiving a complaint that the documentary contained ''numerous

Fall 2006, reports