Speech rulings can impact media

In 1969, the Supreme Court established in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District that students have the right to freedom of expression at school as long as their expression does not cause "substantial disruption." But when some colleges and universities tried to govern students' rights, those students took the matter to court and, in some cases, prevailed. These cases did not involve the media, but the court rulings may impact student journalism.

Keeping your case alive after graduation

Although graduation day is traditionally a time for celebration and for new beginnings, it can bring an unhappy ending to the legal claims of a student who is challenging school censorship. In general, challenges to school policies must be raised by currently affected students. When a student graduates, a court may dismiss her claims as moot.[1] Several federal appeals courts have agreed.[2] Lane v. Simon, a 2007 case decided by the Tenth Circuit, illustrates how this mootness problem can present serious challenges to student press plaintiffs' ability to secure their First Amendment rights through litigation. But Lane also provided a road map of possible ways to overcome a claim of mootness.

Campus crimes slip through cracks

On April 5, 1986, 19-year-old Jeanne Clery was asleep in her dorm room at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. Another student broke into her room, tortured, raped and killed her. Her killer had entered the building through a door that was supposed to be locked but was propped open. Jeanne's parents found out after her death that there had been 181 reports of doors propped open in her building in the four months before her murder and that students had not been told about multiple violent crimes on campus over the past few years.

April Fools’ Day editions are no joke

April 1 is traditionally a day for practical jokes like changing your friend's MySpace picture, stuffing the toes of your sibling's shoes with socks or resetting your roommate's alarm clock to 5 a.m. Many high school and college newspapers also jump into the act, publishing an April Fools' Day issue to skewer school policies and poke fun at the news they cover seriously for the other 364 days of the year.