Playing open records games

The principle behind sunshine laws is simple: Citizens of a democratic nation should be able to find out what decisions are being made by government agencies, including state universities. The reality of using these laws to obtain public documents is much more complex, especially with universities' understaffed offices, reams of paperwork and wariness about releasing anything that might hurt the institution's public image.

Yearbooks not so unlike newspapers

The student newspaper focuses on public events and issues. The literary magazine centers on young artists and poets. The student yearbook, however, encompasses every facet of the high school community. Although each of these publications differs in content, all of them typically fall under the same student publication policy set by school administrators. The role of the yearbook, however, can be a confusing one for teachers and administrators, who sometimes fail to treat the yearbook as deserving the same level of journalistic independence as a newspaper.

Talking politics on campus

During the year marking the 40th anniversary of the landmark Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District decision that gave high school students the right to free speech inside the schoolhouse gates, controversy surrounding another historic event ' the election of President Barack Obama ' put Tinker's promise of free speech under strain.

Legislation in brief

Washington state legislator, student collaborate on student press bill

WASHINGTON -- The legislative process has begun for a bill drafted by a Washington state legislator that would ensure free press protections for both high school and college journalists in one statute. The proposed bill ensures that ''no school officials nor the governing board of the school or school district'' will interfere with students' free speech and free press rights, and that student media will not be subject to mandatory prior review.Brian Schraum, a former student at Green River Community College who is now a student at Washington State University, said he contacted state Rep.