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#Freetotweet? Across much of America, students' online freedoms are under assault.

(12/01/12 3:14pm)

Two events serendipitously collided today in the world of free speech: (1) The First Amendment advocacy organization, 1forAll, launched its Twitter campaign, #freetotweet, offering a $5,000 scholarship prize rewarding young people for creative and inspiring posts about free expression. (2) In North Carolina, it became less free for young people to tweet than ever before. The ability to use the Web to speak without fear of government reprisal is, in many corners of America, a distant and fading promise. There is no freedom to tweet in Indiana, where a high school senior was expelled -- expelled! -- for a junior-grade George Carlin joke on his personal Twitter account that riffed on the versatility of profanity. There is no freedom to tweet in Minnesota, where -- thanks to the University of Minnesota's recent victory in a state Supreme Court case -- you can be kicked out of college for making jokes online that, in the college's view, indicate unfitness for your chosen profession. There is no freedom to tweet in Illinois, where at least 10 students were suspended for involvement in an off-campus Twitter post calling a teacher sexy -- one for writing the post, others for "retweeting" it, and others for protesting the original discipline.

TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Social media policies have college athletic departments a-Twitter

(12/11/12 10:23pm)

College football and basketball players are often the most recognizable celebrities in their college towns (and for an elite few, well beyond). Their faces adorn media guides, and their likenesses and stats are featured in top-selling video games. But is there ever a time when athletes go "off duty" and regain the full privileges of adulthood?

Oklahoma State demonstrates why universities shouldn't handle sexual assault claims

(12/15/12 2:06pm)

Pop quiz: should you tell the police if you think someone is responsible for a pattern of sexual assaults? Well, that ain't how they do things down Oklahoma State way. In the past, I've made the point that universities shouldn't be adjudicating sexual assault claims. Both because they're bad at it and because they can't actually take these people off the streets. Now, Oklahoma State has provided an object lesson, by showing how much can go wrong when you let a bunch of amateur investigators pretend to do the jobs of police and courts. Consider what happened at Oklahoma State after five different students reported sexual assaults by the same alleged perpetrator. You would assume that a disciplinary committee at an institution faced with multiple reports of sexual assault by one person might say to themselves, "Gee, the training video we watched didn't really prepare us to do the proper investigation of sexual assault at this scale, so maybe we ought to call police." Surely a bunch of amateurs, with no authority to subpoena, no ability to collect or test forensics--certainly they wouldn't attempt to identify and punish a possible serial attacker, would they?

Maryland closed Regents meeting to protect sensitive Big Ten financial information? Oh, you mean THIS sensitive Big Ten financial information?

(12/02/12 5:33pm)

Thirteen days after Maryland's Board of Regents took a monumental vote to switch athletic conferences behind closed doors without public notice, we still do not have a legitimate explanation.

TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: The early bird gets the worm, but the persistent requester gets the records

(12/18/12 11:45am)

At a journalism workshop in San Francisco a few years back, a reporter for a small alternative newspaper shared her frustration with getting a local police agency to reply to what seemed like a reasonable request: How many complaints of police brutality do you receive, and what are their outcomes? The response?

Oklahoma State's FERPA fig leaf just got a lot smaller

(12/21/12 11:10am)

There's nowhere left for Oklahoma State University to hide. The man in charge of interpreting the federal student privacy law for more than two decades, LeRoy Rooker, told the Tulsa World in an interview this week that Oklahoma State was under no legal requirement to withhold information about campus sexual assaults from the police. Rooker's interpretation flatly contradicts Oklahoma State legal counsel Gary Clark's insistence that the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act ("FERPA") forbade the university from alerting campus police about a string of reported sex crimes by a 22-year-old OSU senior. The student, Nathan Cochran, was charged Dec.