Iowa State University pays for restricting publication's distribution

IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY MUST PAY A COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER OVER $85,000 IN LEGAL EXPENSES as part of a settlement of a lawsuit over campus distribution rights, a federal magistrate ordered in late August. The Ames Daily Tribune had sued the university over the restrictions it placed on distribution of off-campus publications. Last December, a federal judge ruled that some of the university’s restrictions were unconstitutional. The case was set to proceed to decide the question of whether the university could give preferential distribution rights to school-sponsored publications when the parties agreed to settle the lawsuit.

The case points out the dangers public colleges and universities face when they attempt to restrict distribution of publications on campus. It also raises questions about the common practice of giving preferential treatment to an official campus newspaper. The SPLC suggests that student media not presume that they have any special rights; other media, especially those produced or distributed by students, may be legally entitled to place their stands at similar locations.