Public campus, private spaces

The increased use of private contractors on college campuses is regularly provoking disagreement over the ability of privatized bookstores, coffee shops and copy centers to declare otherwise-public property off-limits for newsgathering. The issue has become a point of frustration for student journalists who are welcomed as customers in their student role but may be excluded once their cameras come out.

UNC will appeal FERPA ruling ordering disclosure of athletic department records

The chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said Thursday the school will appeal a judge’s decision and seek a stay in a public-records lawsuit filed by media outlets including the Daily Tar Heel student newspaper.The trial judge's April 19decision declared that phone records of university athletic department officials and parking tickets given to student athletes are not protected from disclosure by federal privacy law.In a press release, Chancellor Holden Thorp said the school is appealing because of student privacy rights, not because of a desire to conceal information about UNC's football program.“Our responsibility is to protect the privacy rights of all of our students, whether they’re on the football team, in the marching band or in a Chemistry 101 class.

S.C. college paper under six layers of prior review, editor says

Theautomated operator on Benedict College’s phone service welcomes callers, sayingthe college is “a power for good in the 21st century.”

Samantha Norman would disagree. In fact, she said after the recent censorship dispute she’s lost a lot of respect for the college and that although she plans to earn a master’s degree, she will not pursue it from Benedict College.

Virginia approves revised, journalism-friendly social media guidelines for teachers

The Virginia Board of Education unanimously approved guidelines for the prevention of sexual misconduct March 24.The original proposal—brought forth in November—underwent months of debate, resulting in the approval of a drastically reduced version.Although intended to deter school employees from engaging in inappropriate relationships with students, the initial proposal could have been detrimental to student journalism in Virginia.The November proposal included communication restrictions such as:

  • No text messaging between students and teachers.
  • No communicating with students using non-school platforms, including popular social media sites Facebook and Twitter.
  • No “ongoing” meetings with a student without notifying the principal and obtaining written parental consent.
The approved guidelines do not include those restrictions, but instead call for transparency, accessibility to parents and administrators, and professionalism in content and tone.The guidelines also indicate administrators should develop local policies and practices that deter misconduct and provide guidance for educators.The initial restrictions were criticized by journalism advisers and strongly opposed by the Student Press Law Center.SPLC Executive Director Frank LoMonte said the board did a good job of listening to Virginia teachers’ needs and changing the guidelines accordingly.“I think it’s a real testament to the power of teachers’ voices that the board of education has throttled back on the most severe restrictions,” LoMonte said.