New federal law aids campus crime reporting; protects student speech at private colleges

The federal higher education bill signed by the President on Oct. 6 represents a major advance in the reporting of campus crime information. 

First, the new law will require all colleges and universities that receive federal funding to maintain campus police or security logs and open them to the public. The law will also will no longer allow schools to withhold release the outcome of campus disciplinary proceedings when crimes of violence are at issue.

Unfortunately, the bill also included a provision that some schools may read as encouraging them to ban alcohol advertising in college student media. Although and aide to the sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., said the bill was never intended to apply to student publications, the SPLC expects we will be hearing from more students who are being threatened with ad censorship in the next year. 

As always, we encourage student publication staffs to establish their own policies to discourage ads that might encourage irresponsible or underage alcohol use. However, we are prepared to defend the rights of student editors and ad directors to make those decisions themselves.