Winter 2003-04

On Jan. 8, all eyes on Seventh Circuit

When the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit meets on Jan. 8 to hear Hosty v. Carter, it will make a ruling that could drastically reduce the rights of college journalists. Read more

SPLC presents student press freedom awards

A Florida college student newspaperthat fought to keep records public and a Michigan high school reporter who fought censorship at her school were recognized for their efforts by the Student Press Law Center in November. Read more

Stamping out free speech

This fall the Orange & Black staff members had a choice: publish a controversial photo and risk a community backlash or self-censor and save the newspaper from possibly losing editorial control. Read more

Courts determine what rights students have in distributing religious material

This year, three cases involving the distribution of religious material asked the courts to determine if student free speech can be censored by school officials who claim it violates the separation of church and state. Read more

Survey shows support for student speech in decline

In a nationwide telephone poll released in August, 1,000 adults were asked questions about corporate ownership of the media, journalists’ involvement in reporting on the war in Iraq and educating children about First Amendment freedoms. Read more

Federal court overturns Mich. 'verbal assault' law

A federal court ruled in September that a Michigan state law requiring public school districts to suspend or expel students who commit a “verbal assault” is unconstitutional. Read more

School board pays $35,000 to settle Wooster Blade censorship lawsuit

In February, a U.S. district court judge denied the student journalists’ request to prohibit the school district from conducting further prior review of the Wooster Blade. However, the judge did recognize that the student newspaper had greater protection than provided by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hazelwood ruling because the school had opened the publication as a public forum for student expression. Read more

Rulings emphasize Tinker standard

Erasing any uncertainty between the boundary of school authority and students’ right to free speech, two federal courts ruled this fall that schools cannot prohibit students from wearing controversial T-shirts. Read more

A Light in the Darkness?

In 2001, Dieringer was drugged and raped by a fellow student. But like many victims of crime on university campuses, she was not granted access to the results of her perpetrator’s hearing. Since the incident, Dieringer has tried to speak out against what she calls Georgetown’s unfair disclosure policies and FERPA’s overly broad protection for student criminals. Read more

Police at 3 private universities block access to arrest records

Harvard University in Massachusetts, Cornell University in New York and Taylor University in Indiana all argued this fall that campus police at each school are not subject to state open-records laws because they are not public agencies. Read more

Newspaper loses fight for disciplinary records

A commercial newspaper cannot access disciplinary records of students in the Vermont state college system, but it can learn the “final results” of some campus crimes, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled in September. Read more

Texas jury finds superintendent guilty of violating open-records act

After a four-day trial and five hours of jury deliberation, Patton was sentenced to a six-month probated jail sentence and a $1,000 fine for not responding to a local newspaper’s request to see detailed expense reports on the use of district credit cards. Read more

Supreme Court declines to hear Earnhardt autopsy photos case

The U.S. Supreme Court in December declined to hear an appeal by the University of Florida student newspaper to reconsider a lower court’s ruling that kept photographs of racecar driver Dale Earnhardt’s autopsy private. Read more

Foundations of Secrecy

\nUnder pressure from alumni and administrators, head football coach Jim Walden resigned from Iowa State University in 1994. Read more

Court: University board's secret meeting is legal

Student journalists got an early Halloween spook when a state district court ruled on Oct. 30 that the Oakland University board of trustees did not violate the Michigan Open Meetings Act when it held a meeting in secret. Read more

Unfit to print?

When Hampton University’s acting President JoAnn Haysbert seized the entire press run of the student newspaper in October, student editors fought her decision by enlisting help from several professional media organizations. Read more

Office leases, strings attached

Student editors at two independent college newspapers found their independence threatened this fall when school officials attempted to insert stipulations into the newspapers’ lease contracts for office space that editors say would violate their free press rights. Read more

City outlaws theft of free newspapers

The Berkeley City Council unanimously approved a city ordinance banning free newspaper theft in October, making it one of only a handful of jurisdictions in the United States with such a provision. Read more

Turning off political speech

When students at Roger Williams University published The Hawk’s Right Eye, a conservative journal written by members of the campus College Republicans, they hoped their articles would bring attention to conservative political issues. Read more

Court suspends ban on speech that 'provokes'

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction in September to prevent Shippensburg University from enforcing portions of its student conduct code that he said may violate the First Amendment. Read more

Off campus, not off limits

While there is nothing new about students taunting and harassing other students, the introduction of the Internet to this tradition is causing some educators to establish school policies that punish students for off-campus speech. Read more

500 schools block popular teacher-rating site

At least that’s the way more than 540 schools and school districts across the nation are responding to ratemyteachers.com, a Web site that gives students a forum to voice their opinions about teachers. Read more

High court to hear case that could determine minors' rights

For the second time in two years, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review a law that punishes commercial Web site operators who make sexual material deemed “harmful” available online to minors younger than 17. Read more

Schools target advisers as scapegoats

This fall, while students reported the hard facts about underage drinking and anti-war sentiments, advisers at three high schools found themselves being used by administrators as scapegoats and excuses to censor the student press. Read more