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How college newspapers covered the annual Clery campus safety report

(10/03/12 6:37pm)

Most college students understand the level of safety on their campus, but sometimes they can get a little too comfortable. A much needed reminder of campus safety comes this week, as this past Monday was the deadline for colleges to release their annual crime report, as required by the Jeanne Clery Act. All colleges that except federal money, which includes almost all public and private colleges that accept federal financial aid, are required to release this report that chronicles the last three years’ worth of serious crime by category. The act is named after a Lehigh University student who was raped and murdered in her dorm room.

TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: You can't play by the rules -- or know when to break them -- without a copy of the rulebook

(10/02/12 5:16pm)

To the list of those routine-but-essential tasks that belong on every to-do list -- see the dentist, change your smoke-alarm batteries, rotate your tires -- add this one: Get a copy of your school or college's rulebook -- and read it. Each fall, returning students are ambushed by policy changes that, with remarkable frequency, tend to get enacted during the summer term when scrutiny by the public is at its lowest. For instance, the University of North Carolina is among the schools that, in compliance with a recent federal mandate, rewrote its disciplinary standards to make it easier to prove a claim of sexual assault. Of far lesser consequence, dorm residents at Northwestern University recently learned that the fee for lost keys will nearly triple, to $200, for a third offense. No matter the stakes, it's important for campus journalists to keep current on rule changes enacted by campus trustees or governing boards -- especially those that impact the student media.

TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Don't just get mad about colleges' response to mental-health issues -- get informed

(10/23/12 6:02pm)

A former Amherst College student's nightmarish story of the aftermath of her rape in a campus dorm -- a story so profoundly unsettling that readers are being cautioned to steel themselves before viewing it -- is igniting a wave of indignation over the callous treatment of crime victims when they are most in need of support. "Callous" is wholly inadequate to describe author Angie Epifano's ordeal with a system that appears, based on her experience, calculated to create a liability-reducing paper trail instead of to offer sensitive and individually appropriate care to those traumatized by campus violence. Angie's story, published Oct.

Journalism groups write Atlanta mayor to protest continued prosecution of arrested college journalists

(10/01/12 4:02pm)

The National Press Photographers Association and six other journalism organizations have written to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to protest the arrest and prosecution of two college journalists arrested last year while covering Occupy Atlanta demonstrations. Judy Kim, a photojournalist with Georgia State University's The Signal, and Alisen Redmond, a photojournalist with Kennesaw State University's The Sentinel, were arrested last November and charged with "obstruction of traffic." The pair were standing on a street closed to traffic when arrested and identified themselves as reporters. "The arrest and 14 hour detention of college journalists is a tangible example of what is meant by a 'chilling effect' as it relates to First Amendment liberties," wrote Mickey Osterreicher, NPPA's general counsel.

Mapping college newspaper thefts

(10/05/12 11:40am)

Newspaper theft is never funny — but sometimes you have to laugh at the ridiculous lengths some people will go to censor the news. There's the Binghamton student who justified trashing 50 copies of The Binghamton Review by saying he had obtained signed permission from students who "donated" their copies to him to trash. There's The Gatepost at Framingham State College, where 1,000 copies were trashed after the paper ran a photo front-page of students at a lacrosse game with their friend's name (a lacrosse player) written on their midriffs.

Memphis administrators respond to "Break FERPA" campaign

(10/18/12 10:51am)

When we launched our Break FERPA campaign, we wanted to see how universities would respond when students asked for their own records in the same over-broad way schools use when withholding public records. Would schools maintain their previously held position, and turn over all the emails, notes, memos, video, audio, parking tickets or phone records where a student is personally identifiable, even if not mentioned by name?

Texas cheerleaders can keep religious banners, judge rules

(10/19/12 11:28am)

Texas high school cheerleaders have won the right to keep displaying religious banners at sporting events until their case goes to trial in June. The case first came up in September when the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained, after a tip from a local resident, about the religious-themed banners used by Kountze High School cheerleaders for players to burst through at the start of football games. A temporary restraining order allowed students to continue to putting religious messages on run-through banners. A Hardin County judge extended that order Thursday, telling the school district to cease censoring the speech on the girls' banners. In granting the preliminary injunction, the judge said the ban on banners was infringing on the cheerleaders' constitutional and statutory rights by prohibiting religious expression. “I think we were right on the facts and the law,” said David Starnes, the attorney for the cheerleaders. Before the hearing Thursday, the cheerleaders received support from both Texas Gov.