Mining campus construction records for great stories

Even though money is tight on college campuses, that hasn’t stopped schools from continuing their “arms race” of building swanky dorms, athletic facilities and student centers to make themselves more appealing. According to construction industry estimates, U.S. colleges spent $14 billion putting up new buildings between 2004 and 2008. With that kind of money floating around, the temptation to cheat is powerful. It’s your job to sniff out wasteful construction spending and expose it.

The admissions game

Today’s student journalists can be at the forefront of efforts to shed more light on college admissions. From a team of editors keeping up with the Chicago Tribune series to an enterprising reporter at the University of California - Los Angeles poking around the School of Dentistry, admissions coverage has taken on more and more prominence at many student publications.

Spring of discontent

College newspapers rely on advisers for guidance and support, but sometimes those advisers are in need of advice themselves. As university employees charged with ensuring students produce the highest quality work, advisers are often caught between a rock and a hard place when the threat of a sensitive story pushes them to choose sides. With a rash of adviser firings and “removals” sweeping through colleges around the country, advisers are treading carefully.

Taking it off campus

Students published what they believed to be protected speech from an off-campus location. Every time, the students were punished by their school’s administration, arguing that the students’ speech substantially interfered with the educational process. A central issue in each case: Whether the Supreme Court’s 1969 Tinker ruling, which permitted schools to punish on-campus speech if it crosses the line of causing “substantial” disruption, can be applied to off-campus speech as well.