Spring 1998

Coalition warns of whittling away at First Amendment on campus

Warning of a “profound threat” to university journalists and educators, a coalition led by the Student Press Law Center that includes every major national organization of college journalists and journalism educators as well as the schools, faculty or department heads from every accredited college journalism program in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee are preparing to file a friend of the court brief before the federal U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit , urging it to reverse the federal district court1s decision in Kincaid v. Gibson applying a high school censorship standard to college student media. Read more

College Hazelwood case continues

Whether school administrators can control college publications under the 1988 Hazelwood decision, which limits high school students First Amendment rights, is now in the hands of a federal court of appeals. Read more

N. Alabama feels effects of Kentucky ruling after policy scare

The administration at the University of North Alabama is trying to be the first to use the November Kentucky State ruling. However, the plan has backfired, at least for now, according to Flor-Ala editor Tyler Greer. Read more

Journalism educators defend college press

The Kentucky State censorship case represents the first time a federal court has used the U.S. Supreme Court1s 1988 Hazelwood decision to justify censorship of college student publications. But it also represents another first: an outpouring of support for college press freedom from journalism schools and college journalism professors. Read more

University of Kansas board fires editor

With only eight issues left in the fall semester, board members of the student newspaper at the University of Kansas fired its editor in November, claiming he was responsible for a series of decisions that offended readers and tarnished the Kansan’s reputation. Read more

American U. approves new freedoms

Members of the student press at American University no longer need to worry about being censored by the school’s administration. Read more

Free speech bill sees some movement

Rep. Bob Livingston, R-La., may see progress in a bill in which he has a special interest. Read more

Could George Mason be rolling in his grave?

The student newspaper at George Mason University, the Fairfax public school named after the author of the First Amendment, has found itself under the critical eye of the school’s board of visitors in the last few months. Read more

Sports coverage results in violence

A Midwestern State University football player’s threats led to the student newspaper editor’s resignation and transfer to another school and the student senate to pass a resolution in support of the campus’ student media. Read more

Kansas State basketball players punished

Two basketball players that were charged with assaulting a Kansas State University student newspaper sports columnist have been punished for their actions. Read more

Iowa conflict goes down a notch

One portion of the on-going conflict involving Iowa State University, the Iowa State Daily student newspaper and community newspaper publisher Partnership Press, is on its way to settlement. Read more

Minn. students sue over activities fees

Five students at the University of Minnesota have followed in the footsteps of Wisconsin students and sued their school over the allocation of student fees. Read more

Student newspaper staff detained by officers

Student journalists at St. Cloud State University were detained in their office for two hours in April while police demanded a recording the newspaper staff made of a public forum. Read more

San Francisco school punishes newspaper thief

The San Francisco State University administration disciplined a student in December who allegedly destroyed thousands of copies of the student newspaper. Read more

Mich. state legislator introduces anti-theft bill

Student journalists in Michigan will have a weapon against newspaper theft if a bill passes through the state legislature. Read more

Campus crime legislation begins to move

Even though a bill aimed at opening campus disciplinary proceedings has stalled in Congress, it has inspired lawmakers to address campus crime while they are reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. Read more

Education journal joins in disciplinary records case

The Chronicle of Higher Education has joined Miami University and Ohio State University as a co-defendant in a federal lawsuit brought in January by the U.S. Department of Education to prevent the schools from releasing student disciplinary records. Read more

Closed disciplinary proceedings allowed by N.C. appeals court

Chalk up another victory for universities insisting that student disciplinary proceedings must be kept closed. In February, the state court of appeals upheld a lower court’s decision that open proceedings of student disciplinary hearings at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill would violate federal law. Read more

Kent State opens some hearings; other schools increase access

Administrators at three universities around the country have pulled back the curtain of secrecy that protects students accused of crimes on their campuses. For different reasons, the school officials have said, in effect, “Let the sunshine in,” in their efforts to increase openness and public awareness of campus crime. Read more

U. of Penn found in violation of federal crime reporting law

The University of Pennsylvania was in compliance with federal laws when it defined its campus boundaries for purposes of reporting crime, the U.S. Department of Education concluded in February. Read more

No sports secrets at Illinois State; Athletic Council subject to law

The Appellate Court of Illinois has ruled that the Athletic Council of Illinois State University, an advisory body to the president and athletic director on athletic issues, is responsible for adhering to the state open meetings and open records acts. Read more

Nevada regents violated state law by use of phone calls and faxes

The Nevada Board of Regents violated the state open meetings law when it used phone calls and faxes to decide how it would respond to a publicly dissident regent, the state supreme court decided in April. Read more

Evidence against principal should be made available to the public

The evidence against an elementary school principal — who stirred rumors when he resigned amid allegations that he sexually molested a few school girls years before — should be made public, a Dane County judge ruled in February. Read more

Ark. Attorney General interprets FERPA, says federal law doesn't require closure

The federal law known as the Buckley Amendment does not permit a school board to go into a closed session to discuss the educational records of a former student, Arkansas Attorney General Winston Bryant wrote. Read more

Students jailed for alleged hate crime violations

FLORIDA -- In an unprecedented use of state hate crimes laws, nine high school students were jailed overnight, suspended and eventually expelled for publishing a pamphlet including comments that the school1s principal perceived as personal threats.\nThe February 23 arrests of five girls and four boys were in response to the distribution of the underground booklet "The First Amendment," which featured a picture of Killian High School's black principal, Timothy Dawson, with a dart piercing his head and a handwritten article in which the writer wondered, "what would happen if I shot Dawson in the head ...."\nThe pamphlet also contained a depiction of Dawson engaged in group sex and a caricature of campus security guards womanizing students. Read more

Student broadcast not yet in the clear

When students focused an episode of their live television program on the topic of same-sex marriages, they had no idea that it would snowball into a county-wide struggle for journalistic freedom. Read more

Awards honor student, principal for press freedom

The first annual Courage in Student Journalism Awards were presented in April to a student editor who sought to publish a story about a shoplifting incident and to the principal at Blair High School who publicly backed his students as they fought the superintendent to have their controversial cable program aired. Read more

Banned student work finds home on Web

Beware, high school administrators: With the explosion of the information superhighway, censorship of the student press has been transformed from a dead-end avenue into a mere roadblock that can be hurdled by editors and reporters who have a new outlet to publish their work. Read more

Hacker instructions result in expulsion

Rather than spending the last half of his senior year coasting through classes and kicking back with friends, one student journalist has found himself tossed out of school. Read more

Booneville H.S. off the hook

After threatening to inflict a prior review policy on a high school student newspaper, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has dropped the complaint against the school. Read more

Support for Censorship? Americans value free press but favor some restrictions

Although 76 percent of Americans support the right of tabloid newspapers to publish what they want, fewer Americans believe that high school students should be able to publish what they choose. Read more

Witness not found, case dismissed

Cynthia Hanifin’s fight for her First Amendment rights is on hold until her attorney locates a witness in the case against her former high school principal. Read more

Newspaper prints pulled article seven months later

The headline appeared clever, not controversial; “Students Bag Ethics in Contest,” it claimed, introducing an article about a recycling drive held by a school club. Yet it would take another seven months for that headline to be read by students. Read more

Decision upholding punishment appealed

A high school student has appealed a state circuit court’s ruling that he “stepped over the bounds of constitutional protection” by “advocating direct and disruptive action against the school” when he distributed an underground newspaper. Read more

Kansas considers limiting press freedoms

From the schoolhouse to the statehouse, the debate continues over how much freedom legislators will grant to the student press. In March, state senators held a hearing on a bill that aims to trim the rights restored to the student press in 1992 after the Supreme Court granted discretionary power to school administrators with its 1988 Hazelwood ruling. Read more

Proposed restrictions stem from politics

The inspiration for Senate bill no. 669 limiting the student press may have come from sour local politics. According to Gene Anderson, the attorney for one student who testified against the bill, the legislation has its roots in Great Bend’s school board. Read more

Other state free press bills take a slow pace

State legislation to counteract the Supreme Court’s 1988 Hazelwood decision has seen little success thus far in 1998. Read more

Suspension still spoils student's record; parents' $1 million civil suit continues

“Although student disciplinary hearings are serious and adversarial in nature, students are not entitled to the procedural protections of a criminal trial,” Chief Judge Judith Kaye wrote in a unanimous decision for the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division in early December. Read more

Protecting free speech is no easy task

Students at universities around the nation are using their First Amendment free press rights to cover controversial topics, but in some cases it has cost their advisers their jobs. Read more

New CMA program to help advisers

The College Media Advisers organization unveiled a new program in March that will help advisers who have been punished by their schools for doing their jobs. Read more

Former Rutgers professor's claim denied in arbitration

A former Rutgers University journalism professor thought that he had a case against the university when it fired him after he wrote several columns for a campus newspaper. An arbitrator said he was wrong. Read more

Legislation threatens Internet speech

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., introduced the Internet School Filtering Act of 1998 in February which would require schools and libraries to install filtering programs on computers connected to the Internet. Read more

Virginia professors win their case

A federal judge struck down a Virginia law in February that barred state employees from using state-owned computers to access sexually explicit materials on the Internet. Read more

Ohio school district settles with student over Web page that criticized a teacher

An Ohio suburban school district agreed in April to pay $30,000 to a student who was suspended for creating a Web site from his home on which he criticized his band teacher. Read more

Newsgroup case dismissed

A federal court of appeals has thrown out a professor’s challenge to a University of Oklahoma policy that limits the use of Internet discussion groups. Read more

Supreme Court may hear advertising case

After six years of struggle, a case that could decide if student publications in high school are an extension of the school administration may reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Read more

Penn State editor counters state ad ban

To counter a state-imposed alcohol advertising ban in college newspapers, The Daily Collegian at Penn State University took an unorthodox way to retaliate. Read more

'Butt-licking' title not libelous

The state supreme court upheld the dismissal in February of a lawsuit brought by a Virginia Tech administrator who claimed that she had been defamed when the student newspaper identified her as the university’s “Director of Butt-Licking.” Read more

Principal is a public figure, court rules

A state court ruled in March that a public school principal is a “public official,” squarely addressing the status of principals for purposes of libel law. Read more