U of Michigan drops proposal for new rules on distributing papers

MICHIGAN -- The University of Michigan earlier this month dropped a proposed policy that would have limited the distribution of publications in many campus buildings.

The draft policy would have allowed only student organizations under the Board of Student Publications or those recognized by the Michigan Student Assembly to pass out fliers or display publications in College of Literature, Science and the Arts buildings.

The Michigan Daily and The Michigan Review, student papers at the university, publicized the policy in January, and editors criticized it for infringing on free speech rights. University officials maintained the policy was created to reduce litter in LSA buildings and set guidelines for what publications would be allowed into the buildings.

"I think they realized that the backlash was stronger than they expected," said Andrew Grossman, editor in chief of the Michigan Daily. "It wasn't a responsibility they wanted to take on."

The university has not said why it dropped the proposal, Grossman said. University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham told the Student Press Law Center in February that the university was going to schedule a meeting with student media and organizations to discuss the proposed policy. No such meeting took place, but policy developers did meet with some members of the Board of Student Publications, Grossman said.

"After further review, it was decided that it was not needed at this time and that things are working fairly smoothly at this time," Cunningham told the Michigan Review.

The SPLC could not reach the university for comment on Thursday afternoon.

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