As a result of Machesky’s censorship and a successful lawsuit by Dean, student press advocates in Michigan successfully lobbied state Sen. Michael Switalsky, D-Roseville, to sponsor legislation defending the rights of high school student journalists.
But student press advocates say they are concerned that NEOLA’s cookie cutter method of drafting policies diminishes local input and that the policies’ vague language leads to confusion that can have severe consequences for students’ First Amendment rights.
Although it may at times be difficult to sort out, Kulenych said that Jonathan Law High School’s policy against publishing students’ last names and pictures online is designed to protect students from Internet predators. Administrators adopted the policy for the newspaper after it launched its site in 2004. Kulenych said some of his journalism students were at first confused and disappointed, but they have since accepted the policy.
But some experts worry that the free speech benefits of online social networking are getting lost in the debate over Internet safety.
Four first-year students were disciplined last semester and threatened with expulsion after creating a Facebook.com group that harshly criticized their writing instructor.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a group that advocates students' free expression rights, filed a federal lawsuit Oct. 31 against Troy University for a speech code FIRE's President David French called "incompatible with a free society."
More than 8,500 copies of The Daily Utah Chronicle were stolen from campus bins at the University of Utah in November in what newspaper staff said was an effort by the fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha to censor a letter to the editor about hazing.