Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Gov. Signs Law Protecting College Student Newspapers
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law yesterday legislation protecting college student newspapers from prior restraint, and reporters from discipline, by college administrators.
The law extends to public college administrators existing prohibitions on the University of California regents, trustees of the California State University and local community college governing boards from disciplining any student for speech which would be constitutionally protected from government regulation if it occurred off campus. It also explicitly extends the protection from prior restraint on student speech to include the student press.
Adam Keigwin, spokesperson for Assemblymember Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), who authored the law, told the MetNews that the law is a response to the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Hosty v. Carter, 412 F.3d 731 (2005). In Hosty, the court held that students’ First Amendment rights were not violated when the dean of student affairs of Governors State University in Illinois halted the printing of an article critical of the college administration in the college newspaper, and required prior administrative approval of articles before they could be printed.
Keigwin said California protection for college student newspapers was inadequate because it was limited to actions taken by college regents and trustees, who were not likely to be involved in such matters, and did not include college administrators.
California enacted a statute protecting high school journalists from censorship after the U.S. Supreme Court held in Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260 (1988) that high school student newspapers do not enjoy the same First Amendment protections as professional publications. But that statute did not include the college press, presumably because Hazelwood applied only to high school newspapers, and it was thought that college newspapers received full First Amendment protections.
But the Seventh Circuit’s extension of Hazelwood to include the college press jeopardized those protections. Citing Hosty, a June 2005 CSU memo said, “CSU campuses may have more latitude than preciously believed to censor the content of subsidized student newspapers.”
Schwarzenegger said in a released statement:
“Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of our democracy.  Students working on college newspapers deserve the same rights afforded to every other student journalist.”
The California Newspaper Publishers Association pushed for the new law, which will take effect in January.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company