Spring 2012

Catch student rights fever in the Report archive

It is easier today than ever to trace the decline in regard for student rights, because – thanks to the efforts of Publications Fellow Brian Schraum and intern Sam Tobin – every edition of the Reportmagazine is now viewable online, either through the www.splc.org website or on Issuu. Read more

Time to push 'reboot' on school tech policies

The most effective schools govern from a place of trust, and the least effective from a place of fear. Nowhere is this clearer than in schools’ approach to the use of technology, where the widening gap between “haves” and “have-nots” is being worsened by policies that lock away access to Gmail, YouTube and other learning resources students use comfortably and safely everywhere except school. Read more

First Amendment fumble?

In an age where Facebook and Twitter are the go-to sources for entertainment and socializing, universities nationwide are struggling with how tightly to monitor or restrict their athletes’ online activity. Read more


It’s 9:30 p.m. Journalism adviser Mitch Eden is on Facebook looking at the yearbook staff’s recent photo uploads. He gets a message from the photographer. How can she get the perfect shot? Because of Facebook, Eden is able to offer instant advice to the photographer. The next day she captures a stunning frame. Read more

Searching for momentum

With efforts to roll back Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier stalled in several states, student press advocates are searching for new strategies. The Report looks back at lessons learned from the past 35 years of Hazelwood. Read more

Shining the light on campus dining cards

A visit to the dining hall is a daily part of the college experience for most freshmen. Parents buy a meal plan at the start of each term with the idea that it’s a down payment on food for their eager young scholar. But what new students and their parents may not realize is that much of that money often goes unspent – and in many cases, there are no refunds. Read more

Answering the call

Mike Hiestand is leaving the Student Press Law Center this summer after more than 20 years answering calls for help from student journalists and advisers. He’ll still be helping people tell stories, but he’ll have the chance to take off his attorney hat for a while.  Read more

Portrait of controversy

Within limits, students in public schools have a First Amendment right to wear expressive clothing, jewelry and haircuts, and some have successfully sued their schools when forced to change their appearance. But there are no published court rulings addressing whether that right extends to a student’s choice of apparel for a yearbook portrait. And the issue is complicated by the fact that other students’ First Amendment rights – the editors’ – can override the individual students’ stylistic choices. Read more

Your ad NOT here

Private universities across the country are cracking down on their student media advertising policies — a practice that would likely be considered unconstitutional at a public university. Targets are many, from alcohol to off-campus housing, but perhaps most damaging to newspaper revenues is the bar on ads for degree programs at competing schools. Read more

I'm studying environmental engineering... Oh, and I'm also a journalist

Schools like MIT do have student newspapers, even though most students who attend those schools are hardly there to study journalism. And these “nontraditional” journalists face the same hurdles as those at major J-schools, even if they don’t all dream of reporting jobs after college. Read more

Tweeting your favorite things

According to the Federal Trade Commission, if you received anything of value in exchange for writing a review, you have to tell your readers about it. And while lots of journalists may understand that, they may not understand that the FTC thinks your personal tweets, Facebook status updates, and blog posts are “testimonials.” Let’s take a look at the FTC’s rules, what they mean, and how to follow them. Read more

Using corporate records to check up on campus contractors

Colleges spend billions annually contracting with private vendors to supply everything from staplers to stadiums. At times, colleges have been caught steering their purchases to politically connected vendors, or those with ties to campus insiders, instead of going after the best quality and price. And at times, colleges have failed to do their homework on vendors that turned out to be unsavory. That’s where you – and public records – come in. Read more