Fall 2003

Legal requests to the SPLC continue to grow

The number of college student media organizations that contacted the Student Press Law Center for help in dealing with censorship in 2002 was almost 50 percent greater than the number that sought such help 2001. Read more

Taking the high road

When administrators at Upland High School in California instituted prior review of the annual student-run literary magazine, adviser Alan Berman said he stepped down from his position in protest. Read more

Getting down and dirty

Students contend that language that is considered vulgar by adults is socially acceptable among their fellow classmates. They say they should have the right to express it. Read more

Court OKs 10-day suspension for holding up 'bong hits' poster

In his May 27 ruling, U.S. District Judge John W. Sedwick said Juneau School District officials had a right to suspend a student under the school's anti-drug policy after he displayed a banner that read ''Bong Hits 4 Jesus.'' Joseph Frederick, then a senior at Juneau-Douglas High School, held up the sign during the Olympic torch relay as it passed through the town in January 2002 leading up to that summer's games. Read more

School cuts pro-gay club from yearbook

The principal said allowing the Gay Straight Alliance to be in the Rebelation would violate an Anoka-Hennepin Independent School District policy that requires the school to “take a neutral stance on homosexuality.” Read more

Teacher strike art covered up in yearbook

At West High School in Billings, more than 900 copies of the yearbook were handed out to students before administrators halted distribution because of a cartoon about that school year’s teacher strike. Read more

Students win in 'canes' case

Students at Westfield High School can now distribute literature before or after class without fear of reproach, due to the June settlement of a lawsuit filed by six students who were suspended for handing out religious-themed candy canes. Read more

Principal censors story of teacher's ties to underage actor, citing invasion of privacy

When two high school journalists reported on a teacher’s relationship with a Hollywood actor, they quickly learned that their definition of newsworthy did not coincide with their school’s. Administrators told the students their article could not be published because it was an invasion of privacy. Read more

Open for discussion

The board of trustees at public colleges and universities has the crucial job of passing the school’s budget, hiring the president and approving policies that affect students. When its tasks turn sensitive, some boards have tried to keep their discussions private in hope of avoiding public scrutiny. Read more

Earnhardt's autopsy photos stay sealed

Photographs, videos and audio recordings taken during autopsies will remain out of the public eye as a result of the Florida Supreme Court’s decision to not test the constitutionality of a two-year-old law that sealed those records. Read more

Bill would open fire safety info

The country’s colleges and universities would have to provide students, parents and employees with campus fire safety information under legislation being considered in Congress. Read more

Texas law restricts security camera files

In June, Gov. Rick Perry signed a state homeland security law that seals records pertaining to state-funded security systems. The specifications, operating procedures and locations of cameras are now confidential in an effort to protect both private and public property from an act of terrorism. Read more

Paper sues Harvard police

The Harvard Crimson claimed that because Harvard police officers have official law enforcement authority including the power to arrest people off campus, they should be bound by the Massachusetts Public Records Law. Read more

Crime under wraps

Although federal law permits the disclosure of records of the outcome of disciplinary proceedings when a student is found responsible for behavior that would constitute a violent crimes or a nonforcible sex offense, many college say they would rather maintain the students’ confidentiality. Others said they were either compelled or restricted from releasing the records under state law, but many of those schools were in agreement over their concern for students’ privacy. Read more

Tenn. law forces public colleges to release judicial records

Student journalists who attend public colleges and universities in Tennessee are now entitled to more information about violent crimes and sex offenses committed by their peers, following the passage of a law signed in May by Gov. Phil Bredesen. Read more

Tips for covering crime

What you need to know before your paper gears up to cover the disciplinary process at your college or university. Read more

DOE investigates Georgetown's judicial policy

The U.S. Department of Education has initiated an investigation into Georgetown University for its handling of sexual assault cases that go through its judicial process. Read more

State court sides with FERPA, closes expulsion files

The state’s public high schools may no longer be able to release the names of students who are expelled. In declining to hear a case over the matter in April, the California Supreme Court allowed to stand an appellate court decision that expulsion records can be sealed under a federal privacy law. Read more

Big Brother?

Whether it is called a media board, a publication board or a board of directors, the external group that governs a college student newspaper chooses either to protect or ignore the free-press rights of student journalists.  Read more

Student editors protest plans to implement media boards

Lawrence, along with four other editors and the adviser of The Tangerine, said they left the newspaper last semester in fear that the creation of a media board would lead to the school having control over the paper’s content. Read more

Battle for college free speech continues

Celebrations over a ruling that upheld college journalists’ rights came to a halt in June when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit threw out its earlier pro-college press decision regarding the Governors State University newspaper and decided to rehear the case. Read more

Criminalizing theft in question

Wen three students at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls emptied newspaper distribution bins all across campus and left ransom notes proclaiming themselves as the “Army of the Flying Squirrel,” the university took the act seriously. Read more

Papers stolen after reporting on fired coach, drug bust

On the day The Crimson White published a front-page story about Price’s firing,about 1,500 copies were stolen. Isom said he believes the theft was in protest of that story. Read more

Texas A&M to cut j-program

Texas A&M University decided in July to eliminate its journalism department because administrators said they could not afford to hire the extra professors needed to sustain the program. Read more

Paper sues SUNY Albany after denied funds

A student publisher sued the State University of New York at Albany and its student government in April for what he says was a violation of his First Amendment rights when his conservative paper was denied funding. Read more

Expelled columnist reinstated at Tech by court order

Two courts have forced the university to reinstate the medical student after he was expelled for allegedly revealing confidential information about an autopsy in his student newspaper column. Rao sued Texas Tech last year, claiming that his free-speech rights were violated.  Read more

Fighting the zoning of free speech

College administrators argue that “free-speech zones” are necessary in order to protect students from being disrupted on their way to class by demonstrators. Read more

Hold that thought

When two student newspapers this spring covered the hiring and firing practices of their colleges, administrators ordered a review of the papers' content because they said they were concerned about accuracy in reporting. Read more

Evaluating decisions

Student editors and administrators clashed over the decision to publish “controversial” material at two colleges last spring, raising a debate over whether or not school officials can enforce their definitions of ethical guidelines on campus newspapers. Read more

Koala editors under investigation for anti-Islam edition

A satirical newspaper at the University of California at San Diego could lose funding because of itsJune edition, which portrayed the religious and cultural practices of Muslims in a sexual manner. Read more

Filmmaker contests subpoena for tapes

The New Jersey Attorney General issued a subpoena to a recent graduate of Rowan University in July, ordering him to hand over the unedited footage of a documentary he shot about death row inmate Robert O. Marshall. Read more

Calif. photographer cleared of charges

Charges were dropped against a Sacramento City College student photographer who was arrested while covering an anti-war protest in San Francisco. Read more

Internet filters ruled constitutional

On June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal government did not violate the First Amendment by requiring public libraries to place Internet filters on their computers in order to receive some federal funding. Read more

Web-savvy stations save their streams

After more than a year and a half of playing the waiting game, the student radio station at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg resumed streaming music online. Read more

Deciding what is fit to post

People are turning to the Internet in increasing numbers to express their views on a range of issues and, with a click of the mouse, sending information to an audience the size of the world. Read more

Nude model sues over pictures that photographer says she consented to

\nILLINOIS -- A lawsuit filed against a student photojournalist could be decided based on whether the court believes he gained consent from a model.\n \nIn June, a nude figure model sued Columbia College in Chicago and its student-run magazine, claiming her privacy was violated when she was photographed for an article without providing her consent. Read more