Spring 2005

Colorado passes law to battle secrecy, scandal in public university foundation

Allegations of sexual assault and drug and alcohol abuse during football recruitment plagued the University of Colorado last year, leading lawmakers and state officials to eye the University of Colorado Foundation, which held key documents that would indicate how some funding for recruitment was spent. Read more

Court: Cornell records open

In an open-records battle spanning more than four years between the Cornell University School of Agriculture and a radio talk-show host, the highest state court ruled partly in favor of each side in February. Read more

Open and shut

With frequent tuition hikes and steep taxes comes a desire from those concerned with the use of tax dollars to know how money is allocated at public universities across the country. Read more

Anti-Hazelwood campaigns launched in 3 states

As a growing number of high school students find themselves facing legal battles regarding censorship, legislators are trying to establish or change existing laws regarding student expression and student press rights. Read more

Crumbling foundations

University foundations are non-profit entities that receive donations from private citizens and corporations to benefit the public, taxpayer-funded schools with which they are associated. Read more

Principal's censorship, prior review policies violate state law, student reporters allege

ARKANSAS ? Arkansas is one of six anti-Hazelwood states?so-called because in 1995 the state legislature enacted a law protecting student free expression rights. Read more

U.S. bill prohibits schools from concealing results of judicial hearings from campus crime victims

David Shick was a junior at Georgetown University in 2000 when he died after hitting his head during a parking lot brawl. Read more

Proposed Ga. Senate bill would force open police investigations at private campuses

Georgia Senate Bill 153, inspired by a lawsuit involving Mercer University (See xxx, Page xxx), failed to pass the House Rules Committee in March to become law. Read more

Fight for Mercer records heats up

Battles for access to campus crime records in Georgia are being waged on two fronts. Proposed Senate Bill 153 would redefine the Georgia Open Records Act to include police records at private schools, while a case involving Mercer University may progress to the Georgia Supreme Court and set a legal precedent for crime records disclosure.The state Open Records Act defines materials subject to disclosure as "all documents prepared and maintained in the course of operation of a public office or agency" or documents received "on behalf of a public office or agency." A state trial court ruled that private Mercer University had to turn over the records of its campus police department--which operates with official law enforcement authority--under the Open Records Act. Read more

Student arrested, evicted for photos

CALIFORNIA -- An 18-year-old college freshman was arrested in February for taking photographs of an alleged car burglary in progress--an incident that stirred up questions nationwide about journalistic ethics and responsibility. Read more

SPLC launches campaign to raise $2.5 million

The Student Press Law Center has launched a grass roots campaign to reach student journalists, educators, professional journalists, news executives and others interested in promoting and protecting First Amendment freedoms for students across the nation. Read more

Pa. bill lets students choose photographer

A state bill was introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate on March 23 that, if it becomes law, would allow all students--elementary and high school--to have portraits taken by a photographer of their choosing included in the yearbook, rather than one the school or yearbook staff has chosen. Read more

N.H. court rejects student's claim that school unfairly banned photo

Londonderry High School student Blake Douglass sued his school district in October in order to force the yearbook to publish his photo, claiming the ban violated his constitutional rights. Douglass’ photo showed him clad in trapshooting clothing, kneeling with a shotgun propped over his shoulder. Douglass said he wanted to express his enthusiasm for his favorite hobby, trapshooting. Read more

H.S. editor fired over article

Troy High School officials wrongfully justified their firing of the editor of the student newspaper with a section of the state education code that requires parental permission before schools question students about their sex lives, according to a legal analyst for the California Department of Education. Read more

Schools block sex-related content

A cartoon showing stick figures in varying sexual positions, an article about sexually transmitted diseases and condoms and an article about the moral issue of virginity were censored by administrators who deemed them “too mature” for high school audiences this year. Read more

Feeling the Squeeze

The voices of students who broadcast from their high school and college radio stations are in danger of being silenced due to a seldom-invoked Federal Communications Commission rule that says stations may have to share their airtime with others if they are on the air less than 12 hours a day. Off-campus non-profit organizations are using this time-share agreement rule to file for demands to share broadcast time or take over non-commercial school stations. Read more

Apple alleges student Web publisher misappropriated trade secrets on site

CALIFORNIA ? Harvard University student Nick Ciarelli created ThinkSecret.com in 1998 as a way to showcase his enthusiasm for Apple products. Seven years later, he is fighting to keep the site online. Read more

Public university foundation cannot conceal donor records, courts rule

KENTUCKY ? The University of Louisville foundations? records were opened by the state courts for good in December 2004, joining a series of other public universities who were recently dealt similar rulings.The Louisville Courier-Journal sued the University of Louisville Foundation, the school?s fundraising arm, in May 2003 seeking the names of its 45,000 donors. Read more

Iowa State University Foundation is public, Iowa's highest state court rules

IOWA ? After a four-year battle against the Iowa State University Foundation, retired Des Moines businessman Arlen Nichols, 75, came one step closer to obtaining foundation documents that could prove his suspicion that university funds were mishandled.The Iowa Supreme Court ruled in February that the ISU Foundation?the fundraising arm of the university that denied Nichols an array of records?was performing a government function as a result of its contract with Iowa State University. Read more

Legislators aim to shield foundations from public scrutiny with Georgia law

GEORGIA ? A bill that allows public universities to withhold documents and records from the public to protect donor confidentiality was passed in the Georgia House of Representatives and the Senate in April, bucking a nationwide trend of openness.Public colleges and universities, Republican legislators in favor of the bill argued, are at a disadvantage because foundations at private universities are not required to release information about their donors. Read more

Enemies of the State

The story was eye-catching and provocative. The headline Read more

Florida student paper struggles for autonomy from student government

FLORIDA ? When it comes to funding student publications, a state law that allows student government control over the funding of student organizations propagates a power struggle between student journalists and student government officials, and the Florida Atlantic University student newspaper is caught in the center of it. Read more

Student arrested for libel challenges statute in U.S. court

COLORADO -- Thomas Mink, a University of Northern Colorado student who was arrested for criminal libel after he posted an altered photo of a professor on his Web site, has appealed to a federal appeals court to challenge the constitutionality of the state's criminal libel law.Mink, author of the satirical Web site The Howling Pig, altered a photo of the professor to look like Gene Simmons, lead singer of KISS, and posted the photo on his site, along with a satirical biography of the professor. But Mink's computer was soon confiscated by police and Mink was arrested on the grounds that he violated the criminal libel statute.Criminal libel statues are different from civil libel laws, which allow victims of libel to seek compensation from speakers. Read more

Court: School not liable for paper

MINNESOTA ? A March ruling in a state appeals court reaffirmed the principle that public colleges and universities are not liable for the content of student newspapers as long as school officials are not censoring the newspapers.Richard Lewis, a former dean and current professor at St. Read more

Not-so-smooth criminals

Newspaper theft culprits found out the hard way this year that their attempts to cover up information about a crime by committing another crime can draw more attention to it and some college administrators and law enforcement officials are taking such crimes more seriously. Read more

Shield of Armor

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Student journalists may have the law on their side when promising sources anonymity if a recently introduced federal bill, The Free Flow of Information Act of 2005, passes in the House and Senate.The bill, also known as the Media Shield Law, was introduced by Congressmen Rick Boucher (D.-Va.) and Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) under H.R. Read more

Foul play

On Valentine's Day, University of Michigan basketball player Daniel Horton pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge for allegedly choking his girlfriend in December 2004.When the Michigan Daily student newspaper reported his plea, subsequent sentencing and suspension from the team, athletic department officials contacted the newspaper with a message that surprised Editor in Chief Jason Presick."They were very complimentary of our coverage because the Detroit Free Press had published the girlfriend's name and we didn't," he said. Read more

Students' off-campus Web publications out of schools' reach, two courts affirm

In separate victories for students? free expression on personal Web sites, judges ruled in two recent cases that school officials acted in violation of students? First Amendment rights when they punished the students for off-campus Web sites they created that were critical of their schools. Read more