A story on page 15 of the Spring 2000 Report, "Kentucky will require\ncolleges to make police logs more open," incorrectly stated that under\nKentucky law, school officials can be held liable for any injury or death\nresulting from violations of the Michael Minger Act, a law that requires\npostsecondary educational institutions to keep an accurate log of all crimes\nreported on campus and to make that log available to the public.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Under new guidelines issued by the Department
of Education in July, colleges and universities can no longer use the Family
Educational Rights and Privacy Act as justification for their refusal to
release the results of certain campus disciplinary proceedings.
The new guidelines make it clear that schools do not violate FERPA --
a law enacted to protect the privacy of students' educational records --
if they release the names of students found guilty of violent crimes and
nonforcible sex offenses in the campus court system, unless prevented from
doing so by a state law or other legal mandate.
Since the rules took effect August 7, schools are now allowed to provide
the final results of disciplinary proceedings in which a student is found
to be in violation of school rules for allegedly committing a crime of
violence or nonforcible sex offense.
IOWA -- Colleges and universities not willing to loosen their hold
on campus crime statistics may be forced to loosen their purse strings
to pay steep fines if a ruling by the Department of Education is allowed
MISSOURI -- In a lawsuit filed in January, a Kansas City television
station claims that the University of Missouri system's board of curators
and some university administrators are in violation of the state's Sunshine
Law for not providing a reporter with access to information regarding crimes
that occurred on Missouri campuses between 1996 and 1999.
Attorney Jean Maneke, representing WDAF/Fox 4, said the requested records
are from campus disciplinary hearings dealing with crimes of violence and
nonforcible sex offenses, but that the newly released FERPA guidelines
do not affect the case.
TENNESSEE -- The state's campus crime reporting code was amended
in February to require colleges to report all felonies and Class A misdemeanors
committed on campus to appropriate local law enforcement agencies.
The act goes beyond current federal laws, which require only that schools
include such incidents in their police logs.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Current and potential students should soon have
easy access to campus crime statistics through a Department of Education
Officials from the DOE began compiling campus crime statistics from
colleges and universities in August for collection in the database, which
will give students the opportunity to view crime information from colleges
and universities around the nation in one place.
The DOE will present the data to Congress in December.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Schools with information regarding registered
sex offenders present on their campuses will be required to make that information
available to students if the Senate approves a bill passed unanimously
by the House in July.
If the federal bill becomes law, beginning in 2001 campus police departments
will have to make available the same kind of sex offender registry information
as local law enforcement would.
OHIO -- Ohio University student Nathan Ray will return to campus
this fall after settling a lawsuit in which he accused the school of violating
his rights to due process during a campus disciplinary procedure.
The Department of Education is currently suing two other public universities
in Ohio to prevent them from releasing campus disciplinary records to The
Chronicle of Higher Education. Some critics of campus courts say the
secrecy in disciplinary proceedings can lead to charges that the system
Ray was suspended in April after a campus court found him guilty of
violating the student code of conduct.
NEW YORK -- What started out as a routine story idea led to a lawsuit
filed by the former editor of the Hudson Valley College student newspaper.
Tony Gray claims officials from Hudson's Faculty-Student Association,
which operates the school's bookstore, are violating the state's Freedom
of Information Law by denying The Hudsonian access to invoices for
textbooks the store sold to students.
The paper first sought the records in January for inclusion in a story
examining bookstore prices and whether the store is overcharging students
by inflating book prices.
MISSOURI -- It started out as just another school project, but 15-year-old
Lindsay Rhodes soon turned the tables by using her critical thinking class
assignment to put local school districts to the test.
And what the Liberty Junior High School freshman learned was that district
administrators may need to devote some extra study hall hours to working
on their compliance with state open-records laws.
Rhodes wanted to test local school districts to measure their compliance
with the Missouri Sunshine Law, which she researched for her project.
COLORADO -- Officials at the University of Colorado at Boulder claim
the school has turned over all the records requested by student Shannon
Meadors, but Meadors tells a different story.
She claims the university has been in violation of state open-records
laws since April, when she first requested e-mail records from 16 individuals,
including state employees and student government officials.
The public now has more access to high school athletic associations in
Georgia after the state passed a bill requiring those organizations
to comply with state open-records laws, and the same thing may happen in
Pennsylvania if the state's House of Representatives approves a
bill passed by the Senate in June.
Georgia's HB 1308, signed by Gov.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Federal Trade Commission ruled in May that
colleges do not have to comply with new federal privacy regulations requiring
institutions to report their confidentiality policies to the commission.
The FTC said colleges are already ruled by the confidentiality requirements
of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act-also known as the Buckley
Amendment-which prevents schools from releasing student records that include
personally identifiable information about students without authorization.
Students at Auburn and Indiana University are struggling with school officials
over access to meetings that student journalists think the public has a
right to attend.
A wall of silence surrounds an Indiana commission chosen to develop
guidelines for acceptable behavior for all students and faculty in the
school's athletic department.
The committee members, appointed by university President Myles Brand
after sanctions were imposed against Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight
for misconduct, held their first closed meeting in May with no prior notice
to the public and no comments afterward regarding what took place inside.
It appears that the commission's code of conduct, once decided, will
be all the information that is released thanks to what Indiana Daily
Student editor John Silver called a loophole in Indiana's open-meetings
"The reason they can close [the meetings] to the public is that the
commission members were appointed by the president -- not an elected/appointed
governing body -- and not the board of trustees," Silver said.
NEW YORK -- A state court judge ruled in July that the City University
of New York's University Student Senate violated the state's open-meetings
and freedom-of-information laws by electing officers and conducting votes
by secret ballot.
State Supreme Court Justice William J.
ILLINOIS -- Northern Illinois University officials admitted violating
the First Amendment after confiscating film from a school newspaper photographer
The film contained pictures of a graduate student who took off all her
clothes to protest remarks made by a speaker at a religious debate on campus.
Because the police arrived too late to identify the woman, an officer approached
Northern Star photography editor Kevin Slattery and asked for his camera.
When he refused, a few plain-clothed officers arrived and told him if he
did not give up the camera he would be arrested.
"I was upset because I didn't know my rights," Slattery said.
TEXAS -- A high school senior barred from attending his own graduation
agreed to a $150,000 settlement with his school district in May.
Former Midland High School student Casey Riggan was not allowed to go
to his graduation after he refused to turn over a photograph taken of his
principal's car outside a female teacher's house over a year ago.
CALIFORNIA -- An article on sex education in the Granite Bay High
School student newspaper caused one group of parents and at least one school
board member to question the First Amendment rights of student journalists.
The Granite Bay Gazette published an article in April detailing
how little some high school students know about their own bodies.
Student editors decided to publish the story after a new state education
law took effect Jan.
CALIFORNIA -- Five students filed lawsuits against the Los Angeles
Unified School District in June challenging the punishments they received
for their involvement with an underground newspaper.
In total, 11 Palisades High School students were suspended and four
others transferred for their involvement with the Occasional Blow Job, a
controversial underground newspaper that insulted teachers, students and
administrators and used profane language.
As a result of the suspensions, approximately 300 students staged a
walk-out to show support for the newspaper and the students involved.
According to court documents, school administrators said the students
involved with the newspaper and walk-out were punished for contributing
"to unauthorized material which caused disruption on the high school campus."
For Jeremey Meyer, that contribution was an e-mail he never intended
to be published.
Meyer, a senior at Palisades and one of the four students who was forced
to transfer to another district high school, filed a lawsuit asking the
court to allow him to return to Palisades.
High school journalists and advisers in Colorado are relieved.
They managed to insert a provision into a bill exempting some student
journalists from a requirement that school officials receive permission
from students' parents before administering any surveys or assessments.
The original version of the bill did not contain an exception for student
KANSAS -- Completing course work may not be enough to attend graduation
ceremonies at Schlagle High School in Kansas City.
Mary Colston was ejected from her graduation ceremony in May after a
dispute with administrators over an honor cord she was wearing that signified
her membership in Quill and Scroll, the national honor society for student
Colston said school officials told her she could not wear the cord because
only students who were members of the National Honor Society are allowed
to wear their cords.
VIRGINIA -- A slightly increasing minority of Americans support
free-press rights for high school students, according to a recent survey.
In The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center's survey, "The State of
the First Amendment 2000," released in early July, respondents were asked
whether they believe high school students should be allowed to report on
controversial issues without the approval of school authorities.
Forty-three percent strongly or mildly agreed that students should have
the right to cover hard-hitting stories.
MASSACHUSETTS -- An eighth-grade student was suspended and subsequently
expelled in May for drawing a picture of his school surrounded by explosives.
Michael Demers, a special needs student at Northwest School in Worcester,
was asked by a teacher to draw a picture of how he felt after being reprimanded
for talking in class.
MISSOURI -- A former college newspaper adviser filed a lawsuit in
June against Central Missouri State University, alleging her termination
was in response to stories covered in the school's newspaper.
Barbara Lach-Smith, who advised the Muleskinner staff for six
years, said her contract was not renewed because of stories uncovering
unusual stipulations in outgoing university President Ed Elliott's contract,
including $620,000 in severance pay, special benefits for Elliott's wife
and personal computer services.
James Rynard, Lach-Smith's attorney, said he can prove that the school
violated Lach-Smith's civil rights and infringed on students' First Amendment
"We're very confident in our claims," Rynard said.
NEBRASKA -- Good news isn't cheap.
At Peru State College, administrators are accused of doing everything
they can, including censoring the student newspaper and firing the adviser,
to make sure positive news comes out of the struggling institution.
Controversy struck last November during an investigation by then-editor
Kathy Chase into a sexual assault on campus.
Peru State Times adviser Matt Mauch said college President Ben Johnson
attempted to prevent Chase from covering the incident.
"They were telling her this is beyond your jurisdiction," Mauch said.
"You do not want to write about this; if you write about this you will
get on my bad side.
MARYLAND -- College Media Advisers sent a formal letter to Mount
St. Mary's College President George Houston in June, saying the school
has 30 days to make amends with the adviser to the student newspaper, The
If the school is unable to reach a resolution within the 30-day time
frame, CMA will likely censure the college.
NORTH CAROLINA -- Officials at St. Augustine College in Raleigh
confiscated almost the entire press run of the student paper and fired
the adviser because he refused to allow "administrative review of the student
newspaper prior to its publication," said Sevealyn Smith, communications
department division chair, in a memo sent to the former adviser.
Calvin Hall, former director of student publications at the college,
said administrators told him they wanted to begin reviewing the publication
Imagine the federal government canceling the presidential elections this
November because officials are unhappy with media coverage of the candidates.
Think about what would happen if the president ordered copies of The
Washington Post removed from newsstands out of fear that the paper's
candidate endorsements would unfairly influence voters.
OHIO -- A full panel of federal appellate court judges heard oral
arguments May 30 in what may be the most important case heard to date regarding
the First Amendment protections afforded America's college student media.
In September 1999, a divided three-judge panel of the U.S.
NEW YORK -- Citing 'aesthetic reasons,' administrators at the City
University of New York's Graduate Center removed distribution bins for
the school's student newspaper and replaced them with two much smaller
racks -- a move that editors say seriously hampers their distribution efforts.
Editor Mark Petras said the old bins held up to 300 copies of
Advocate, but now his staff can only distribute around 60 issues at
a time in the plastic racks that appeared in April in the lobby of the
school's nine-story building, which is the paper's main distribution site.
"If our distribution in the lobby is stopped, it really cuts off circulation
to the whole building and the whole school," Petras said.
School officials have designated a shelf, the bottom of six on the rack,
as the one on which the papers are to be placed.
WEST VIRGINIA -- The Mercury may not be rising this fall at
Glenville State College if The Mercury Strategic Plan Task Force
follows through with all of its recommendations for the school's student
Christopher Williams, office manager of The Mercury, said the
college's president formed the committee to make some major changes to
the paper, including a revision of the newspaper's charter and development
of a publication committee that Williams said could regulate story content
The task force is looking into areas of the paper's operation, including
its budget, format, mission and purpose, number of issues, production schedule,
staffing policies and adviser selection as well as ways to "ensure that
it meets the mission" of the school.
He said the committee is also considering moving the newspaper office
from its current location and totally eliminating the print version of
the paper, leaving a solely online publication.
Williams said among the explanations given for the changes is the fact
that the paper's budget, which is funded by student fees, is being affected
by a decline in enrollment.
However, he also said school officials have been upset with critical
articles The Mercury has printed and thinks the administration's
view that the paper has not done "an adequate job of informing students
on campus" really disguises its desire to control content.
"They don't want us to print anything derogatory to the university,"
CALIFORNIA -- When Fresno City College student Ryan Bowler had his
submission to the campus magazine The Ram's Tale rejected by faculty
advisers out of fear it would offend the school's administration, he decided
to use another publication to get the word out about what he calls an attempt
to "regulate the student press and subsequently control the student body."
In a commentary published by The Fresno Bee in May, Bowler accused
school officials of threatening to withhold monetary support from The
Ram's Tale if student editors printed material that offended administrators.
ARIZONA -- An ad hoc student newspaper advisory committee at Yavapai
College claims it is seeking to upgrade the standards of the school's newspaper,
but the paper's former editor thinks the college president is trying to
gain editorial control over the paper after the publication of several
Editors at The Rough Rider received a memo announcing the formation
of the committee to establish more comprehensive guidelines and professional
ILLINOIS -- Members of the Des Plaines cable commission are seeking
to develop obscenity standards for local public-access cable stations after
a Harper College student's television program offended some citizens.
The sometimes vulgar and profane "Static Experience" is broadcast after-hours
by AT&T-owned Channel 35, which currently imposes no editorial restrictions
on its programs.
UTAH -- It happened over a year ago, but student editors at the
University of Utah's Daily Chronicle believe the so-called 'Huntsman
affair' is still impacting their newspaper in significant ways.
In August of 1999, former Chronicle editor Dave Hancock wrote
a column criticizing the appointment of Karen Huntsman to the state's board
of regents because of her lack of a college degree.
Huntsman's husband, Jon, a multi-millionaire and one of the university's
major donors, was outraged by the column and threatened to withhold all
future funding unless Hancock printed an apology, said current
With over $400 million hanging in the balance, and after extreme pressure
from the school's administration, the editor was persuaded.
Hancock published an apology for any personal offense the column caused
but stuck by the view shared by he and his staff that there were flaws
in the appointment of Mrs. Huntsman.
WISCONSIN -- A federal district court will have the opportunity
to determine if the referendum system at the University of Wisconsin --
which allows the student body to determine funding for certain student
groups -- is constitutional.
Although the Supreme Court upheld the use of mandatory student activity
fees to fund campus groups in March with its decision in Board of Regents
of the University of Wisconsin System v.
NEW JERSEY -- The student newspaper staff at William Paterson University
may be facing a difficult fall semester if university President Arnold
Speert sticks to a promise he made last spring.
Speert said he would no longer recognize The Beacon as the campus
newspaper after being offended by the paper's annual satire edition, The
Bacon, which was published in May.
In a memo sent to the university community, Speert said he was "appalled
and offended by the insensitivity and poor judgment" of the newspaper staff
in publishing material that he called racist, sexist, homophobic, antisemetic
and "antithetical to the values that are at the heart of this University."
Speert also said his administration would no longer advertise with the
paper or grant interviews to its reporters.
He further threatened to make The Beacon's other advertisers aware
of the school's condemnation of the paper and to discourage them from advertising
with the publication in the future.
Prospective students visiting a university's campus for the first time
are supposed to get their first glimpse of what life as a college student
is really like.
Those who attended Drew University's 'Spring Saturday' admissions
event on April 15 may have received a tour of the campus, but their opportunity
to get a true feel for the student voices of the university was taken away
-- along with 1,000 copies of the student newspaper.
Co-editor Susan Rella said her staff filed a criminal mischief complaint
with local police after the campus public safety department failed to act
on reports that witnesses saw students wearing admissions and tour guide
T-shirts removing stacks of newspapers from The Acorn's main distribution
sites in the school's dining hall and student center.
Rella estimates that half of the paper's 2,000 press run was stolen
but that most of those papers were later found in an area of the student
center that is inaccessible to students.
The issue that was stolen contained front-page articles on sexual assault
and two arson arrests.
UTAH -- The Brigham Young University honor court dispensed a $1,200
fine to two students who confessed to stealing copies of the campus student
newspaper in February.
The students were identified after BYU police initiated an investigation
into the Feb.
PENNSYLVANIA -- Across the campus of the University of Pittsburgh,
free copies of The Pitt News, the school's independent student newspaper,
rest in bins waiting to be picked up by the university community.
Just as easily accessible to students are copies of other free, commercial
newspapers, which in some places sit right next to stacks of The Pitt
News. Anyone walking past has the freedom to choose which paper he or
she wants to read.
But businesses in the state do not have the same freedom to select in
which paper they want their advertisements to appear, after a June ruling
by the U.S.
UTAH -- A Milford teen spent seven days in a juvenile detention
center and was forced to leave the state after being charged with criminal
libel for statements he made on his personal Web site.
Ian Lake will face a misdemeanor charge of criminal libel for referring
to his principal as "the town drunk," naming girls at his high school as
"sluts" and making derogatory remarks about the intelligence of several
In typical civil libel suits, if an individual is libeled that person
can only recover monetary damages from the person who defamed him or her.
In the rarely used criminal libel charge, the state can prosecute a person
for libel and impose jail time.
Stephen Clark, legal director for the Utah American Civil Liberties
Union, and one of the attorneys representing Lake, said the criminal libel
statute itself is unconstitutional and therefore the case should be thrown
"As far as we can tell the Utah statute ... is facially overbroad because
it purports to criminalize perfectly legal constitutionally protected speech,"
NEW JERSEY -- A bill passed by the state House of Representatives
in June that was meant to protect the privacy of students in the Garden
State also has the ability to greatly restrict the rights of the high school
HB 592, which is currently in the Senate, would make it illegal for
any personal information about students to be posted on a school Web site
without written consent from a legal guardian.
WASHINGTON -- A superior court judge ruled in July that the North
Thurston County School District violated the constitutional rights of a
student who was suspended for ridiculing a school administrator on his
personal Web site.
Judge Thomas McPhee found that because former Timberline High School
student Karl Beidler's Web site was not an on-campus activity and did not
create a substantial disruption of the school day, school officials were
not justified in punishing him for it.
A federal law that criminalizes the commercial transmission of material
deemed harmful to minors over the Web is unconstitutional, according to
a unanimous ruling by a federal appeals court in June.
The three-judge panel of the U.S.
PENNSYLVANIA -- In a departure from most court rulings concerning
schools' ability to punish students for their Web sites, a state court
ruled in July that a Bethlehem school district did not violate the First
Amendment rights of a middle school student when it expelled him for a
Web page he created at home.
Although most courts that have heard cases on this subject have sided
with the students (see Web
site), the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court found that district officials
were justified in expelling former Nitschmann Middle School student Justin
Swidler because comments on his Web site could be considered threats against
a teacher at the school.