Spring 2002

'Classic' censorship alive and well

High school censorship seems to occur in an ever-growing set of circumstances. For example, in recent years the Report has described restrictions on student Web sites, repression of underground newspapers and rejection of student media advisers who stand up for their students' rights. Read more


A story on page 30 of the Winter 2001-02 Report about the theft of student newspapers incorrectly stated that Baker University admissions director Cheryl McCrary took between 600 and 700 copies of The Baker Orange. McCrary admitted to taking a bundle of newspapers, but neither the exact number that she took nor the total number of missing papers could be determined. Read more

Ore. journalists barred from student vote tally

When college journalists at the University of Oregon showed up to cover their student government association’s vote tally after a campus primary election, they were turned away and told they had no right to be there. Read more

Newspapers win access to school files

Two separate court rulings in the Midwest upheld the public interest in access to information that was previously kept under lock and key by school and college administrators. Read more

Court clarifies privacy law

The Supreme Court in February unanimously upheld the right of schools to engage in the common practice of having students grade one another’s work in the classroom, which the Court ruled does not violate federal privacy statutes. Read more

Cases target secret meetings

Around the country, school board members and college administrators are being threatened with harsh punishments for illegally conducting business behind closed doors.\nIn what may be an unprecedented action, five former Las Cruces school board members are facing criminal charges for alleged open-meetings violations. Read more

N.J. adopts law aimed at restricting surveys

NEW JERSEY -- A bill prohibiting school districts from administering surveys that ask students sensitive questions without written parental consent was signed into law in January by then-acting Gov. Read more

Cornell loses appeal in open-records case

NEW YORK -- A state supreme court judge in January denied an appeal by Cornell University in a freedom of information case started when a radio show host sought access to information about the university's planned agriculture and technology park in the nearby city of Geneva.\nIn 2000, Jeremy Alderson, then-host of National Public Radio program "The Nobody Show," said the project would have an adverse effect on area wildlife and crops, and sued Cornell when it refused to release documents about the site.\nThe park is to be used for biotech research of genetically engineered crops.\nThe state court decision followed an earlier ruling that since Cornell's agricultural school is affiliated with the State University of New York system, the university is obligated to release its records under the state open-records law. Read more

SUNY affiliate sued for meetings access

NEW YORK -- A student at the State University of New York at Albany sued the university-affiliated Auxiliary Services Corp. Read more

N.J. campus withholds crime log

NEW JERSEY -- Statewide, journalists are likely to rejoice in July when an antiquated and restrictive open-records law will be replaced, but after their access to campus crime logs was recently denied, student journalists at William Paterson University especially are counting down the days.\nWhen the Pioneer Times stepped up its coverage of campus police in mid-March, its access to crime logs at the public university in Wayne was suddenly curtailed, adviser Liz Birge said. Read more

Mich. court defines role of private campus police

MICHIGAN -- After a five-year legal battle, a state appeals court ruled in January that law enforcement officials at private colleges can be deputized by local sheriff's departments, giving them the authority to enforce the law both on and off campus.\nThe decision, handed down in January by the Michigan Court of Appeals, appears to give student journalists increased access to records of arrests carried out by campus police at such schools, said Dawn Phillips Hertz, general counsel for the Michigan Press Association. Read more

Campus sex offenders must register in Tenn.

TENNESSEE -- Beginning in October, convicted sex offenders must register with the state bureau of investigation under a law signed by Gov. Read more

Ky. amends reporting law for college fires

KENTUCKY -- Gov. Paul Patton signed legislation in April establishing a statewide college and university fire safety education fund and clarifying guidelines for reporting fires.\nThe "Michael Minger/Priddy fire prevention fund," was named for Michael Minger, who died in a September 1998 arson fire at Murray State University, and Michael Priddy, whom the fire seriously injured.\nThe new law clarifies guidelines in the current Minger Act on reporting fires to the state fire marshal, defining "immediately" as within two hours of the discovery of a fire or fire threat.\nThe law sets a fine of $1,000 to $2,000 for each day a reporting violation occurs.\nLAW: Ky. Read more

Clery Act Investigations

Security on Campus Senior Vice President Daniel Carter reported progress this spring on Clery Act investigations by the U.S. Read more

Editors find themselves in hot water after publishing... Questionable Content

Controversial editorial page content in several college newspapers early this year resulted in heavy criticism and, in some cases, calls for censorship. Read more

Adviser settles with Ga. university

GEORGIA Read more

Two schools delay yearbooks

Although censors of the college press traditionally target student newspapers, two college yearbooks were shelved this spring by administrators with objections to the books' contents. Read more

Newspaper thefts rise sharply

On Feb. 20, the staff at Temple University's student newspaper the Temple News put the finishing touches on that week's issue. Read more

Tufts magazine faces student's libel allegation

MASSACHUSETTS – The Primary Source just cannot catch a break. After beating sexual harassment charges and stopping a series of thefts, the conservative magazine at Tufts University in Medford is now the subject of a libel claim. Iris Halpern, the senior who alleged the magazine harassed her last fall, filed a complaint with the dean's office on April 1 claiming the magazine libeled her and retaliated against her for having filed the sexual harassment charges. The conflict between Halpern and The Primary Source dates back to Oct. Read more

Student media fight policy changes

This spring, administrators at three universities tried to implement tighter control over campus publications. Read more

Seton Hall radio picks new format for station

NEW JERSEY Read more

Immunity given to 3 in Governors State case

ILLINOIS Read more

Judge dismisses suit against Portland State

OREGON Read more

U. of Missouri amends research paper policy

MISSOURI Read more

Students 'bugged' by listening device uncovered in newsroom

CALIFORNIA — Students at Richard Nixon's alma mater are used to hearing about the legacy of their most famous alumnus. Read more

Calif. court dismisses libel claim over story


Paper sued for taking photo of girl

OHIO Read more

Censorship on the rise

For the past several months, while America has been at war to preserve freedoms abroad, many school-sponsored publications have been losing some of their most fundamental freedoms at home.\nCensorship is alive and well in high schools around the country, with administrators routinely silencing the free expression of student journalists in a variety of ways and for myriad reasons. Read more

Students find some administrators on their side

In some rare instances, an administrator stands by a student's right to free speech, in keeping with the spirit of the First Amendment. Read more

School in Wash. tries to impose restrictive policy


Underground papers also fall prey to censorship

In light of the widespread censorship and restrictions placed on them by administrators, sometimes student journalists who seek free expression are left with no other choice but to ignore school-sponsored publications altogether and establish independent newspapers.\nThe advent of the Internet and widely available desktop publishing software has made the creation of independent student newspapers easier, but the task of distributing and promoting them can still be daunting for students in restrictive school districts.\nThree students at Ashland High School in Massachusetts had difficulty getting their underground publication The Real Deal off the ground, but their perseverance at attempting to distribute the paper paid off.\nPrincipal Shelley Marcus Cohen clamped down on distribution when editors Jon Rosenblum, Jon Turner and Alan Weene handed out the first issue in December. Read more

Image Control

School administrators all over the country have hacked away at student free expression in the guise of "protecting" the local community from exposure to offensive opinions or controversial topics in school newspapers.\nWhether in the context of student papers seen by members of the wider community, or that of student newspapers printed as supplements to a local paper, administrators are far more likely to censor news that goes beyond the schoolhouse gate. Read more

Student religious speech contested

A federal judge in Illinois rejected an elementary school student's plea in April to have her school print the words "God Bless America" on a yearbook cover she designed. By refusing to grant a temporary restraining order, U.S. Read more

Jury: School liable for paper


Journalists rally against changes to Pa. code


Letter to editor sparks suit by Texas student

TEXAS Read more

Federal appeals court lets expulsion stand


Ark. high court rules song was 'true threat'

ARKANSAS — Basing its decision on an earlier Arkansas case, the state supreme court in January ruled that a Fayetteville High School student's rap lyrics constituted a "true threat" of physical violence, upholding a juvenile court's criminal conviction of the student. Fayetteville student Blake Jones was charged with terroristic threatening, a felony, after his former friend Allison Arnold said she felt threatened by violent rap lyrics he had written and given her. Blake's lyrics – styled after those of rapper Eminem – presented a true threat to Arnold, the court decided, because they were specifically written about and delivered to her. Read more

'Killian Nine' student loses in appeals court

FLORIDA — A federal appellate court in March affirmed a district court's ruling that a student at Killian High School in suburban Miami did not have her constitutional rights violated when she was arrested and strip searched for distributing an underground pamphlet at the school. The Miami-Dade County School District had Liliana Cuesta and eight other Killian students arrested in February 1998 for publishing threatening comments in their underground publication titled First Amendment. The 20-page anonymous pamphlet included a drawing of principal Timothy Dawson with a dart through his head and a column that mused about the consequences of shooting him. Cuesta was strip searched in accordance with Dade County corrections intake policy. Read more

Online muckraker banned by school


Anarchist site closed down after FBI raid


Copyright act threatens Web radio

WASHINGTON, D.C. Read more

Student punished for 'hot girls' Web page

MONTANA — The Great Falls school board voted on March 11 to expel a high school senior who had posted pictures on his personal Web site under the heading "10 Hottest Freshman Girls." Kenny Volk, who is currently attending nearby C.M. Read more

Anonymous professor continues legal fight


N.J. measure protects student information

NEW JERSEY Read more

Neb. professor faces suit for posting essay

NEBRASKA Read more

Colo. House passes school filtering bill

COLORADO Read more

Church & State

Click here for the updated legal guide Read more