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When justice delayed really is justice denied: Vindication that comes too late for Amanda Tatro

(11/02/12 9:21pm)

The judicial ruling that would have changed everything for Amanda Tatro came just five months too late. Tatro, 31, was found dead in her apartment June 26, less than a week after the Minnesota Supreme Court threw out her First Amendment challenge to disciplinary sanctions imposed for some misunderstood jokes she posted on Facebook. Her college, the University of Minnesota, insisted that it could punish students' speech on social-networking pages -- even if the speech was created off campus on personal time -- and the Minnesota court agreed. The court fashioned a new legal standard that, for the first time, enables colleges (in Minnesota, at least) to discipline students for speech, even on personal time, that violates the "established professional conduct standards" of their chosen course of study.

Charges against student journalists arrested while covering Occupy protests officially dropped

(11/02/12 2:17pm)

The charges against two student journalists who were arrested last year while covering the Occupy Atlanta protests were officially dropped Wednesday. Judy Kim and Alisen Redmond were reporting for their student newspapers, The Signal at Georgia State University and The Sentinel at Kennesaw State University, respectively.

Christian university president defends student newspaper's right to publish Obama endorsement

(11/05/12 5:22pm)

We write a lot about principals and college administrators who don't seem to appreciate the value of a free and vigorous student press, so it's nice to write about one who does — Abilene Christian University President Phil Schubert. Last week, the editorial board of the school's student newspaper, The Optimist, endorsed President Barack Obama for a second term. The endorsement sparked debate on the newspaper's website, where some wondered whether the endorsement was at odds with the school's Christian mission. Sunday in the Abilene Reporter-News, Schubert publicly defended the paper's right to publish its endorsement: Abilene Christian University does not endorse political candidates or parties, so some people reacted with surprise when our student newspaper, the Optimist, recently endorsed a presidential candidate. That provides a great opportunity for me to explain what ACU does endorse: making sure our students receive an education that prepares them to make real choices and engage in independent thought about important issues. ... It would be easy to shy away from diverse opinions about difficult subjects, but in so doing, we would remove from our students the opportunity to practice — in a safe environment — for the challenges and experiences that will shape them into these kind of people. Well said.

Memphis journalist and College Press Freedom Award winner tells her story

(11/06/12 1:55pm)

Saturday afternoon the SPLC had the privilege of honoring The Daily Helmsman and its editor-in-chief, Chelsea Boozer, who are this year's College Press Freedom Award winners. Over the last few months, Boozer and Helmsman managing editor Christopher Whitten endured repeated harassment by campus police at the University of Memphis for the paper's reporting about campus rapes and their criticism of the police department's failure to notify students in a timely manner. Then, the paper successfully fought back an attempt by a student fee committee to cut the paper's budget by 33 percent — disproportionate with cuts to student organizations, and in response to some committee members' dislike of the paper's coverage.

New Jersey bill protects college students' social media passwords, usernames

(11/07/12 11:44am)

A bill awaiting the governor's approval in New Jersey would make it illegal for colleges and universities to require students or applicants' social media user names or passwords. The bill prohibits both private and public colleges or universities from asking for social media passwords or usernames.

College administrator who wanted student newspaper to pay him for interviews is out

(11/13/12 5:30pm)

A Texas college administrator who last year wanted reporters at a San Antonio College's student newspaper to pay him in exchange for interviews is no longer is employed. The relationship between former student life director Jorge Posadas and The Ranger has long been rocky.

SUNY Oswego student threatened with expulsion for reporting says he may reconsider going into journalism

(11/15/12 2:46pm)

We wrote yesterday about a SUNY Oswego student who was threatened with expulsion for an email interview he attempted for a journalism class assignment. Alex Myers is a foreign exchange student from Australia spending his semester at the New York school. He was writing a profile on SUNY Oswego men's hockey coach Ed Gosek for class and contacted three other coaches for input.

Connecticut school board reprimands member for writing letters to the editor about positive school news

(11/15/12 2:48pm)

It's not unusual to hear of students being censored. But school board members? According to The Register Citizen in Connecticut, the Torrington Board of Education met in closed session to order a fellow school board member to stop writing letters to the editor. What sparked the school board's crackdown has apparently been traced back to the weekly letters written by board member Vincent Merola, who wanted to share positive stories about the school district. That's right: Merola wanted more attention for positive stories about the school district. According to reports in the Register, the board used a sketchy justification to call the closed session related to Merola's conduct.