S-E-X -- if you are a high school journalist the three-letter word often can be a quick ticket to administrative criticism.
An attorney's frustrating quest to obtain documents needed to defend her client has highlighted the difficulty that many across the nation experience in accessing police records at private universities and colleges.
Academia represents a special subset of society where, for a short time, collegians are allowed to flourish in knowledge, free expression and self-discovery, relatively free from "real world" worries and stresses. The idealistic promises of college, however, have been marred in recent years with spurts of violence.
Twice this year, Student Government Association members at Western Illinois University used secret ballots to vote on important campus issues, an athletic fee increase and implementation of a plus and minus grading system. The SGA had been using the method for some time with seemingly good intentions -- to expedite and simplify the voting process. Little did members know it was potentially illegal and a violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act.
Three states have passed significant pieces of legislation this semester affecting public access to government information. Some of these bills have increased access to information for high school and college journalists while others have decreased it.
High school and college journalism advisers in California -- with the help of Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) -- could soon receive more protection against administrators who are irked by student newspaper content.
Twelve states have laws against cyber-bullying, requiring schools to develop Internet safety programs or policies to control the electronic harassment that many believe is becoming more prevalent. Still, First Amendment advocates and attorneys have expressed concern over the laws' broad definitions of "bullying" and whether schools should get involved in incidents that happen outside school.
High school students and administrators often have very different ideas about what kind of language is appropriate. On school grounds administrators usually have the last word, but questions are being raised when the speech occurs off campus and not on school time.
A penny saved means thousands earned for the Student Press Law Center, thanks to some creative teachers and their energetic students.
It is not unusual to hear stories about administrators in higher education censoring student media; what is strange is when the students ask officials to censor content.