Winter 2000-01

College newspaper and high school editor receive Scholastic Press Freedom Award

The editor of a student newspaper who exposed the censorship of a student newspaper at a neighboring high school and a college newspaper that uncovered the details of a lavish contract given to their former university president received the 2000 Scholastic Press Freedom Award. Nick Edwards, a former editor of the Stinger at Camarillo High School in Camarillo, Calif., and the staff of the Muleskinner, the student newspaper at Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg received the awards in November. The award, sponsored by the Student Press Law Center and the National Scholastic Press Association/Associated Collegiate Press, is given each year to a high school and a college student journalist or student news medium that has demonstrated outstanding support for the free press rights of students. Edwards Read more


A headline on page 23 of the Fall 2000 Report, "Mercury task force wants to implement changes for Glenville State newspaper," incorrectly attributed a statement about the motives of Glenville State College officials in making changes to the newspaper to the editors of The Mercury student newspaper. Read more


One college president said he gave the order to confiscate student newspapers because of factual errors and fear of copyright infringement. Read more

Judge orders U. Wisconsin to revise student fee system to meet Supreme Court standard

WISCONSIN -- Almost nine months after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision affirming the constitutionality of mandatory student activity fee systems at the University of Wisconsin, a district court judge ruled that the university Read more

KSU spends $60,000 to defend censorship

KENTUCKY -- While the frustration of waiting for a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in the Kentucky State University yearbook and newspaper adviser censorship case continues, lawyers for the school may be the only ones still smiling. Documents obtained from the university by the Student Press Law Center indicate that the university had -- as of April 22 -- spent more than $60,000 to defend against charges that it had illegally confiscated the student yearbook and transferred the student media adviser to a secretarial position for refusing to censor the student newspaper. Read more

Students criticize speech policies

The board of regents at New Mexico State University passed a new speech policy in October following a lawsuit filed against the university by a graduate student who was arrested for refusing to hand over leaflets to a campus police officer. Sean Rudolph was distributing fliers protesting the university's free-speech policies when he was arrested for obstructing an officer on Sept. Read more

Chancellor protects campus paper's funding

WISCONSIN -- The chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh intervened in a dispute between the student association and the student newspaper in October, preventing the association from stripping the newspaper of its funding. University Chancellor Richard Wells told the Oshkosh Student Association it could not take away the Advance-Titan's student organization status, thus allowing the paper to keep its funding. Read more

Students ask High Court to overturn state ban on alcohol advertising in college publications

PENNSYLVANIA -- A student newspaper asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its case in November after a federal appellate court upheld a state law banning the advertising of alcohol in college publications. The Pitt News petitioned the Supreme Court after the U.S. Read more

Thieves attempting to silence press steal student newspapers at 5 campuses

The student newspaper staff at Southwest State University in Marshall, Minn., suspects its entire press run was stolen by a religious organization unhappy with several letters to the editor that bashed the organization for forcing its views on the campus community. Staff members at The Impact said they think all 1,500 copies of the Nov. Read more

Student government evicts campus paper

CANADA -- The Canadian equivalent to First Amendment rights for the student media took a blow in October when a judge decided in favor of a Montreal student government association that locked a university student newspaper out of its offices. The McGill University Student Society, a student government body, changed the locks on the office doors of The McGill Daily because it said the newspaper's lease had expired. The lease agreement was entrusted to the student society by the university in the form of a student union in the early 1990s, and the student society sublet The Daily's office space to the paper until 1994 when the written lease expired. Read more

Private schools must honor own guidelines

MASSACHUSETTS -- The state supreme court said colleges and universities must abide by the rules outlined in their student handbooks in a September ruling relating to Brandeis University's handling of a campus disciplinary hearing. Student press advocates believe the court's affirmation of private schools' responsibility to abide by their own regulations is significant for the college student press because many private colleges that outline student press rights in their student handbooks fail to abide by those guidelines. In the case, Schaer v. Read more

President of Notre Dame challenges student newspaper's independence

INDIANA -- After 34 years of independence, a campus newspaper at a Catholic university could lose control over its advertising guidelines or be forced to move off campus. Rev. Read more

Campus radio has right to refuse sponsorship

MISSOURI -- The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a federal appeals court's ruling in September that said the First Amendment rights of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Read more

Judge thwarts prosecutor's efforts to subpoena student paper's notes

MICHIGAN -- Eleven media outlets, among them the Michigan State University student newspaper, scored a victory in September when the state supreme court unanimously ruled against an East Lansing prosecutor who subpoenaed the media's footage of a March 1999 campus riot. Ingham County prosecutor Stuart Dunnings wanted the video and still photography of nine TV stations and two newspapers to help build his cases against participants in the riots, which broke out on the East Lansing campus following Michigan State Read more

Election fraud survey leads to D.A. visit

WISCONSIN -- Reporters at the Marquette Tribune wanted to offer a look inside Milwaukee County's election, and they ended up with the district attorney knocking on their door. Staffers of Marquette University's student newspaper responded to widespread rumors of voter fraud in the state with investigative reporting that included a survey of 1,000 Marquette students. Read more

Prosecutors subpoena journalist's footage of Hells Angles gathering

MONTANA -- Linda Tracy thinks she's a journalist. Missoula prosecutors say she's just a student. Read more

Tenn. officials resist volunteering information in ESPN libel lawsuit

TENNESSEE -- University of Tennessee officials filed documents in federal court in September in an attempt to avoid the release of records the university claims are private and would cost thousands of dollars to assemble. The ESPN television network subpoenaed the records, claiming they are required for the network's defense against a defamation suit filed by Tennessee football player Reggie Ridley and Victoria Gray, a former athletics department tutor. Ridley and Gray filed their separate federal suits, each asking $2 million in damages, last year after the network alleged massive academic fraud by the school Read more

Lawmaker to introduce bill making photo altering illegal

WISCONSIN -- The September revelation that University of Wisconsin officials had altered the cover photo of the school's 2001-02 undergraduate application brochure prompted a state legislator to introduce a bill designed to block such practices, a move some say would unnecessarily limit the freedom of photojournalists. State Rep. Read more

Libel Lessons

Ian Lake called his principal "the town drunk." Ryan Lathouwers designed a Web site where users made anonymous submissions ridiculing a professor's sexual orientation. Brian Condradt said 11 of his teachers worshipped Satan, while Justin Swidler likened his math teacher to Adolf Hitler. And Joey Harrison and eight of his friends published a parody paper threatening to rape "the most fucked up teacher" on campus. The common thread: They all ended up in court, facing charges of libel and invasion of privacy by those from whom they are supposed to learn. One case was dismissed. Read more

CMA censures Md. college

MARYLAND -- A battle that began with a letter of reprimand from\nthe school president to the student newspaper adviser at Mount St. Read more

Out-of-school speech is protected, court rules

ARKANSAS -- A junior high school student in the Pulaski County School District was expelled for one year in September because of profane writing he did at home -- but a federal judge reinstated him less than two weeks later, ruling the school district violated the student's First Amendment rights. In September, U.S. Read more

Ore. court of appeals upholds student's expulsion for underground publication

OREGON -- The attorney for a student editor expelled for publishing an underground newspaper is taking the case as high as it will go in the state court system, hoping to have the student's punishment overturned and his disciplinary record wiped clean. Jonathan Hoffman, attorney for Chris Pangle, filed a petition for review with the Oregon Supreme Court Nov. Read more

Principal threatens underground editors

KANSAS -- School officials and two Lawrence High School seniors with a bent for satire reached a compromise that will allow the boys to keep publishing their underground newspaper -- but only with their principal reviewing it first. Co-editors Lee Dunfield and Brad Quellhorst said they could live with the September deal, which requires them to submit proposed editions of Low Budget to principal Mike Patterson for approval. Read more

Court says school cannot punish girl for poem

OKLAHOMA -- A federal judge in November affirmed high school students'\nright of poetic expression -- even if the poetry includes violent musings\nabout a teacher Read more

Students' efforts push district officials to create new free-speech guidelines

IDAHO -- After a recent debate over the role of underground newspapers in the educational process, school officials in Coeur d'Alene enacted a more student-friendly policy for non-school sponsored publications -- but not without a few kinks. Read more

Advocates storm statehouses to build support for students' free expression

Twelve years after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its landmark Hazelwood decision limiting the free-press and free-expression rights of high school students, student press advocacy groups are still fighting for the statutory restoration of those rights in statehouses around the country. Read more

Organizations honor 9 high schools that protect students' First Amendment rights

MISSOURI -- Nine public schools from across the country were named "First Amendment High Schools 2000" on Nov. Read more

Professors drop libel suit against creator of

CALIFORNIA -- Free speech on the Internet got a boost in October when two City College of San Francisco professors dropped their libel complaint against a student whose Web site featured less-than-flattering descriptions of the professors' teaching ability and personal characteristics. American Civil Liberties Union cooperating attorney Bernard Burk, representing defendant Ryan Lathouwers, called it a "major victory for free speech on the Internet -- and for student media everywhere." Daniel Curzon-Brown, an English professor, filed the suit in October 1999 claiming that comments posted on Lathouwers' Web site defamed him. Physics instructor Jesse David Wall joined the suit in May. Curzon-Brown said he decided to settle the suit after it became apparent to him that he did not have a winning case. "The law protects the stuff on the Internet that it doesn't in all other places," he told The San Francisco Chronicle. "It allows libel and homophobic hate speech; it is open season on teachers." The site,, allows CCSF students to post evaluations of their teachers for other students to use when registering for classes. Read more

Student settles suit over Web site suspension

ARKANSAS -- Valley View School District officials settled a federal lawsuit in August filed by a student suspended for the content of his personal Web site, but all parties involved have refused to release the details of the agreement. Read more

Battle over Napster arrives on campus

As the battle over the Internet exchange of digital music rages in the business and legal world, some universities have cracked down on such exchanges on their campuses, while others pointedly defend its use. Read more

Internet cases reveal inconsistencies in interpretation among federal courts

The explosion of the Internet continues to send shock waves through the American justice system, as courts mediate disputes between advocates of unregulated cyber-speech and government arms seeking to control such speech. In recent months, cyber-liberties have prevailed in one federal court case, been limited in another and await final judgment in two others. In New Mexico, state government officials accepted a November 1999 federal court ruling and laid to rest any possibility of continuing their fight to criminalize the electronic distribution of material deemed harmful to minors. Read more

Off-campus Web site nets eighth grader a suspension

NEW MEXICO -- When a group of Edgewood Middle School students used\nthe Internet to post a list of other students they hated, they earned suspensions\nand spawned a debate that pits students' right to free expression against\nschool officials' obligation to protect their students.\n Read more

Lawmakers force schools to filter Internet

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congress passed a bill in December requiring many elementary and secondary schools and public libraries receiving federal technology funds to install Internet filters on their computers. The Children's Internet Protection Act, introduced in the Senate by Sens. Read more

Senior suspended 10 days for criticizing high school on home page challenges punishment

OHIO -- Clayton Telles let his creative juices flow over the World Wide Web, but their current landed him in the principal's office and, after being suspended, at home for a school-sponsored vacation. The senior at Otsego High School in Otsego created a Web site,, from his home computer in October. Read more

Risky Business

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Bee stings UC system with expose on campus crime reporting errors

CALIFORNIA -- The Department of Education began a full-blown investigation of University of California System schools' compliance with campus security regulations in October after a Sacramento newspaper published a series of articles claiming the schools were not accurately reporting campus crime statistics. Read more

Clery Act violators number more than 300

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of Education has found that about 340 colleges have violated the federal Campus Security Act since the law was enacted in 1991, according to the national watchdog organization Security on Campus. Few schools have been punished, however, for failing to comply with the law, renamed the Jeanne Clery Act in 1998, requiring schools to publish annual crime statistics and make their police or security logs open to the public. Read more

DOE unveils online campus crime database

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of Education launched a new database in October that it trumpeted as allowing students to access crime information from more than 6,000 schools via the Internet. Read more

Director denies reporters access to crime logs

PENNSYLVANIA -- The security director at a Pittsburgh college refused to give police logs and incident reports to a student newspaper in September because no such documents existed. Read more

Paper sues Vt. colleges for disciplinary records

VERMONT -- A St. Johnsbury newspaper has filed a lawsuit against the Vermont State Colleges system after one of the system's colleges refused to release student disciplinary information to the paper. The Caldonian-Record filed a lawsuit last April against Lyndon State College and the Vermont State Colleges in Washington County Superior Court for violating the state's open-meetings and open-records laws when the schools refused to release detailed disciplinary records regarding crimes of violence or nonforcible sexual offenses that occurred on campus in the past five years. Read more

Student's death prompts call for access to campus courts

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Georgetown University officials are reviewing the school's current policy regarding the disclosure of campus court records after receiving criticism for refusing to release details about the outcome of a disciplinary hearing related to the death of a student. Read more

College pays $15,000 fine to Education Dept.

IOWA -- The first school fined by the Department of Education for violating the federal Clery Act agreed to pay $15,000 in an October settlement with the department. Read more

Law will require colleges to make sex offender info publicly available

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Clinton signed a bill in October requiring colleges and universities to make available the identities of all the registered sex offenders who are employed or enrolled on their campuses. The Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act, which is included in HR 3244, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, will require schools to give students a place to go to find out the names of sex offenders enrolled at or employed by the institution. Each state must keep track of convicted sex offenders and report that information to all the colleges in the state. Read more

Settlement improves access to meetings

NEW YORK -- A New York Supreme Court judge approved a settlement in August reached between the City University of New York and two men who accused the board of regents of violating the state open-meetings law. William Crain, a CUNY professor, and David Suker, a graduate student from the university, withdrew their lawsuit against CUNY after reaching a settlement Aug. Read more

Governor signs bill to make California State University student governments more open

CALIFORNIA -- The governor of California approved a bill in September that creates more specific open-meetings guidelines for student government bodies in the California State University System. Read more

Paper cries foul, wants records related to firing of Indiana U. basketball coach

INDIANA -- An Indianapolis newspaper filed a lawsuit in October against Indiana University, claiming that the school violated the state's open-records law by refusing to release detailed information related to the firing of longtime basketball coach Bob Knight. In Marion Superior Court, The Indianapolis Star argued that because Indiana University is a public institution it should be required to disclose all information leading to Knight's dismissal, which was provoked by what the university called "a pattern of unacceptable behavior." Knight, who won three NCAA men's basketball championships during his tenure at Indiana University, has been the subject of criticism for his legendary temper both on and off the court. University officials said they withheld information relating to his dismissal on the advice of the state's public access counselor. "We've complied with the law in all respects," said Susan Dillman, a university spokeswoman. Read more

Federal court rules peer grading violates FERPA

OKLAHOMA -- A federal appellate court ruled in October that peer grading in schools is prohibited by a federal law that protects the privacy of student "education records." Read more

Judge says district needs to release Web site logs

NEW HAMPSHIRE -- The Exeter School Board voted to make logs of Web sites visited by students using school computers available to the public in November after a county superior court ruled in favor of a father who wanted copies of Web page addresses accessed by children at school. Read more

Nev. college must keep president search open

NEVADA -- The University and Community Colleges System of Nevada in November asked the state supreme court to overturn a lower court's ruling forcing the system to conduct a public search for a new president for the Community College of Southern Nevada Read more

Newspaper may be able to intervene in case

ILLINOIS -- A federal appellate court said in August that it will allow two state newspapers to argue that a settlement between Lake Land College and one of its former vice presidents should not be sealed. Read more

District will release student directory info

TEXAS -- The Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District must release student directory information to the public, according to a ruling by the state attorney general's office in July. The district had said in April that it would no longer release the information because of concerns about confidentiality and vendors using the data to solicit students. Read more