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California law to require CSU student governments to conduct public meetings

(10/01/00 12:00am)

California Gov. Gray Davis signed a bill in September to require student government bodies in the California State University system to be more open. The law, sponsored by Assemblywoman Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, will require student government bodies to post agendas of regular meetings at least 72 hours in advance, open their meetings to the public and allow audience members to address the body. The bodies are only permitted to convene in closed sessions to discuss property negotiations, pending litigation and personnel issues.

Montana prosecutors seek student videotape of Hells Angels event

(11/01/00 12:00am)

Linda Tracy's effort to tell the story of a July gathering of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang in Missoula evolved from a journalism internship project into a legal struggle over reporter's privilege when local prosecutors subpoenaed her unbroadcast footage in October. Tracy, a 32-year-old senior at the University of Montana, used about three hours of footage to produce a 20-minute documentary on the event that involved altercations between protesters and police.

Newspaper claims Indiana University illegally withheld records of coach's firing

(11/01/00 12:00am)

An Indianapolis newspaper filed a lawsuit in October against Indiana University, claiming that the school violated the state's open-records law by refusing to release detailed information related to the firing of men's basketball coach Bob Knight. In Marion Superior Court, The Indianapolis Star argued that because Indiana University is a public institution, it should be required to disclose all information leading to Knight's dismissal, which was provoked by what the university called "a pattern of unacceptable behavior." University officials said they withheld information on the advice of the state's public access counselor. "We've complied with the law in all respects," said Susan Dillman, a university spokeswoman.

College newspaper and high school editor receive Scholastic Press Freedom Award

(12/01/00 12:00am)

The editor of a student newspaper who exposed the censorship of a student newspaper at a neighboring high school and a college newspaper that uncovered the details of a lavish contract given to their former university president received the 2000 Scholastic Press Freedom Award. Nick Edwards, a former editor of the Stinger at Adolfo Camarillo High School in Camarillo, Calif., and the staff of the Muleskinner, the student newspaper at Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, received the awards in November. The award, sponsored by the Student Press Law Center and the National Scholastic Press Association/Associated Collegiate Press, is given each year to a high school and college student journalist or student news medium that has demonstrated outstanding support for the free press rights of students.

Texas university officials pull the plug on student radio station

(12/01/00 12:00am)

Rice University administrators shut down the student-controlled radio station Nov. 30 after two student disc jockeys protested a new policy requiring the station to broadcast more athletic events by playing music over the second half of a women's basketball game. Programming for KTRU 91.7 FM was replaced by satellite content from the World Radio Network two days after student DJs Viki Keener and Patrick Glauthier simultaneously aired music and the second half of the school's women's basketball game to protest continued pressure from the athletic department and the administration to air more athletic events. Terry Shepard, the university's vice president for public affairs, said the disruption of the broadcast was the cause of the shutdown, but it was not aimed at punishing the students.

Utah judge refuses to dismiss case against high school student charged with criminal libel for Web site

(12/01/00 12:00am)

A Utah juvenile court judge Dec. 5 denied an attorney's attempt to dismiss a rare criminal libel case against a 17-year-old but immediately granted a request to appeal the ruling. Milford High School student Ian Lake was charged with criminal libel in May after local officials discovered his personal Web site, which called his principal, Walter Schofield, the "town drunk" and featured other disparaging remarks about students and teachers at Milford High School.

Pennsylvania jury orders middle school student to pay teacher $500,000 for invading privacy on Web site

(12/01/00 12:00am)

A Northampton jury rejected a teacher's claim of defamation against one of her students, but still awarded her $500,000 on the grounds that the student's Web site invaded her privacy. Kathleen Fulmer, a math teacher at Nitschmann Middle School in the Bethlehem Area School District, filed the suit in August 1999 against Justin Swidler, one of her former students.