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Student gay-rights advocate loses initial legal challenge, but makes some favorable First Amendment precedent

(04/01/12 8:44pm)

A federal judge has refused to reinstate an Atlanta-area student government leader who was removed from office after pushing to open the competition for "prom court" to same-sex couples -- but the ruling is hardly one for Reuben Lack's school, or any school, to celebrate. U.S.

That didn't take long -- unrepentant free-speech violator Chicago State resumes its censoring ways

(04/06/12 5:36pm)

When Chicago State University's response to a humiliating federal-court defeat -- which found that the college had violated the free-speech rights of its fired newspaper adviser and former editor-in-chief -- was to issue a triumphant news release declaring victory, you knew it wouldn't be long before the college returned to the First Amendment doghouse. Twenty-three days, to be exact. Having learned nothing from U.S.

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.

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.

After college spikes story on professor's arrest, student editor publishes it himself

(09/26/12 1:34pm)

When the editor of Bryan College’s newspaper learned there was more to a professor’s resignation than had first appeared, he looked into the incident and started reporting. Using public records, Alex Green discovered that assistant professor David Morgan’s resignation was preceded by a June arrest in which he was charged with attempted aggravated child molestation, attempted child molestation and sexual exploitation of a child. Green planned a story on the arrests, but before it could run in last Friday’s issue of The Bryan College Triangle, college administrators at the private Dayton, Tenn., college told him he couldn’t run the story.

Athletic department threatens to revoke student magazines press credentials over its livetweeting

(09/28/12 4:25pm)

Like many college papers last Saturday, The Stony Brook Press live tweeted its school’s football game — only their tweets made no references to football. Stony Brook gets stuck in the sand trap and Colgate wins their first power play — Stony Brook Press (@sbpress) September 22, 2012 Colgate turns their yellow card into a double to second base — Stony Brook Press (@sbpress) September 22, 2012 The tweets (view a Storify here) prompted a threat from the athletic department to revoke the newspaper’s press credentials if they did not start using correct football terminology.

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 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.

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.

#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.

Hazelwood turns 25: Five simple ways you can make sure it never turns 50

(01/06/13 2:13pm)

A movie of trained fighting dogs ripping each other to pieces. Ten million dollars from an undisclosed source dumped into a special-interest ad campaign to sway the outcome of an election. A padded resumé falsely claiming credit for military heroism. A video game in which players tear the limbs off their opponents, then beat them to death with the blood-soaked stumps. "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" hate-speech signs waved outside of a military funeral. A newspaper editorial advocating the defeat of a school board candidate who supports banning books. The Supreme Court thinks one of these is unprotected by the First Amendment. If you guessed it was the editorial, then you are likely either (a) a federal judge or (b) a victim of Hazelwood justice. This coming Sunday marks 25 years since the Supreme Court confined America's young people to a constitutional underclass in Hazelwood School District v.

Supreme Court justices' papers give some hints about how Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier came to be

(01/09/13 6:25pm)

Education Week's Mark Walsh, a veteran Supreme Court reporter who deeply understands education law, is just out with a fascinating look behind the scenes at how the high court arrived at the First Amendment legal standard that governs much of the speech taking place in schools (and, increasingly, in colleges). The entire piece is well worth reading, but it's particularly enlightening for the nuggets Walsh was able to unearth from the papers of Justices Byron White, author of the majority opinion in Hazelwood School District v.