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A First Amendment refresher for administrators at the University of Memphis (and everyone else) about college newspaper funding

(08/05/12 4:20pm)

When campus budget-writers sit down to divvy up student activity fee dollars for the coming term, they understandably want some way of assessing whether the organizations queuing up before them are worthy ones. It may be frustrating that the most obvious way to evaluate the value of the student newspaper -- whether the articles seem well-written and aptly selected -- is forbidden.


TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Growing list of states require disclosure of student athletic participation

(08/07/12 7:53pm)

Pennsylvania has joined the list of states that require public schools to disclose details about how much they spend on sports and how well they are progressing in providing equal athletic opportunities for girls. The law is billed as a step toward promoting fairness in athletics by enabling students and parents to find out whether girls' teams get competitive funding for facilities, travel and other essentials. Among other things, the law requires each middle school, junior high school and high school to report annually each Nov.


Newspaper rack negotiations resume between Independent Florida Alligator, University of Florida

(08/13/12 3:39pm)

The University of Florida postponed plans to remove and replace two dozen of The Independent Florida Alligator's on-campus racks, one day after the independent student newspaper filed a lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction. The newspaper has been fighting a school proposal that would put the university in charge of the paper’s distribution sites on campus.



TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Education Department allows access to records of employee tuition waivers

(08/21/12 6:21pm)

The cost of tuition has never been a hotter discussion topic. With the sticker price of a year's undergraduate education at a private university topping $28,500 a year -- and the average student graduating with more than $25,000 in loan debt -- serious questions are being raised about whether college is a sound financial investment. Because tuition costs are pinching family budgets so uncomfortably, the public is doubly outraged when it comes to light that well-connected insiders are getting a free ride -- at a cost that inevitably ends up being passed along to the paying customers. In recent years, journalists have brought to light questionable VIP tuition waiver programs in Illinois, where the governor and legislature just abolished a widely abused system of legislator-dispensed scholarships, and in Tennessee, where student government officers at the University of Memphis have benefited for years from free tuition covered by other students' activity fees. The latest free-ride program facing scrutiny is in Rhode Island, where an exceptionally generous perk waives tuition not just for college and university employees, but for their spouses and children as well.



Free speech zone at University of Cincinnati struck down – permanently

(08/22/12 7:41pm)

A federal judge permanently struck down free speech policies at the University of Cincinnati on Wednesday, upholding a previous ruling that found the policy unconstitutional and vague. Judge Timothy Black issued a preliminary injunction in June in the lawsuit brought by the school's Young Americans for Liberty chapter after group members tried to circulate a petition across campus and were confined to a "Free Speech Area" consisting of about 10,000 square feet. Black's decision Wednesday makes that ruling permanent, ending policies that required students to give between five to 15 days prior notice of protests and demonstrations, in addition to confining them to the free speech area.



Fired after speaking to local newspaper, N.Y. music teacher's First Amendment case will have a second act

(08/26/12 1:47pm)

A reporter for the Long Island daily, Newsday, figured she had a colorful human-interest story: Elementary-school music teacher falls and breaks her ankle backstage on opening night of the school musical -- but calls off the ambulance so the sirens won't disrupt the show.


TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Filtering filth (and some facts, too) -- get the dirt on school website blocking

(08/28/12 4:57pm)

A back-to-school open-records project that every public high school news organization ought to try: Get a list of the websites, or terms, that your school's filtering software blocks. There are plenty of news stories about school policies guaranteed to trigger a collective campuswide yawn -- but website blocking is not one of them.