Judge rules in favor of university in <i>Liberty</i> lawsuit

OREGON — Lawyers for The Liberty, an independent publication atOregon State University, filed a motion for reconsideration after a judge ruled infavor of the university in a lawsuit filed by the paper.

The motion to reconsider was filed Monday contesting the judge’sFebruary 22 ruling on the original suit, which was filed after the universityremoved the Liberty’s affixed newspaper bins from campus last year.The bins for another student newspaper, The Daily Barometer, remained inplace and the Liberty viewed this as censorship. The university, however,said its problem was with the bins, not the papers.

“We had a policy governing fixed distribution bins. In other words,the bins that are somehow affixed to the concrete or fastened to something elsethat makes them immobile,” Todd Simmons, an Oregon State Universityspokesperson, said.

Though lawyers for the Liberty filed a motion for immediate relief,which would have required the university to allow the newspaper to again bedistributed on campus, it was withdrawn after the university amended its fixedbin policy and allowed the paper to distribute again, said Heather GebelinHacker, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund representing theLiberty.

“That was really good for the students because that was obviouslyour primary concern upon filing the case was making sure they got their voiceback on campus,” Hacker said.

The motion for reconsideration was filed, despite the policy change,because they want the court to reconsider its decisions.

“In this case they did get their bins on campus, which is good, butthey also need to have assurance that this is not going to happen again in thefuture and right now they don’t have that … There was no ruling by thecourt that this action by the university violated their constitutional rights,which is important not only to them but also to any student on campus,especially the student media,” Hacker said. “It’s sort of ascary thought to think that the university could just decide that any paperother than their daily student newspaper, any of the alternative papers, couldjust be tossed off campus.”

The university, however, is pleased with the ruling in its favor findingthat there was no discrimination based on newspaper content.

“The other issue that I think was much more important to us as aninstitution that celebrates free speech and open discourse on campus was thefinding … that in this case there was no basis for a claim of discriminationbased on political point of view or ideology,” Simmons said. “So allof that was completely dismissed and we were very glad to see our pointreinforced by the judge in this case.”