Without the backing of professional news organizations, student journalists often find themselves at the mercy of government officials who refuse to treat them as other professional reporters.
At Southwest Missouri State University, a group of minority students lashed out against editors of The Standard, a student newspaper on campus, because of an editorial cartoon that appeared in the newspaper that they found to be "offensive."
The editor of a student newspaper at Southwest Missouri State University did not expect an editorial cartoon on Thanksgiving to spark controversy, but a student group’s complaint that the cartoon was discriminatory has landed her in school-sponsored mediation with the group this spring. The newspaper’s adviser, also under fire by the student group, refused to be involved in the mediation process.
The nation’s largest association of student judicial administrators voted in March to protect students’ First Amendment rights to free speech as three universities this spring adopted new student speech policies intended to loosen restrictions on what students can say and where they can say it.
In the first case involving application of the federal campus crime reporting laws enacted last fall, a Missouri judge ruled on January 26 that Southwest Missouri State University was required to open certain student disciplinary records to the public. Three days after the ruling, the university released the names of five students who had been found guilty in campus judicial proceedings of violent or sexual offenses.
Call it deja vu. Sort of.