Christopher J. Ortiz
We take for granted a lot the freedoms we enjoy in college.
There are no parents telling us when to be home or to not do a keg
stand. We don’t need permission to leave class and go to the
restroom. There are no principals telling us not to wear hats in
the hallways or what we can’t wear.
In collegiate media, we generally are free from university
administrative restraint. We don’t have CSU breathing down our
necks about what is on the pages of the Collegian (though our
adviser likes to put his two cents in).
In January, an 11-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the Seventh Circuit heard arguments for Hosty v. Carter, a case
about a college newspaper that could have implications for all
According to the Student Press Law Center, www.splc.org,
“Governors State University was sued by student journalists
Margaret Hosty, Jeni Porche and Steven Barba in January 2001 after
Dean Patricia Carter told the newspaper’s printer in October 2000
to hold future issues until a school official had given approval to
the student newspaper’s contents. The paper, the Innovator, had
published news stories and editorials critical of the
administration. Carter’s directive was issued despite a university
policy that said the student newspaper staff ‘will determine
content and format of their respective publications without
censorship or advance approval.'”
The administration is arguing that the case of Hazelwood School
District v. Kuhlmeier (1988) should apply. In Hazelwood the Supreme
Court upheld the rights of high school administrators to censor a
high school newspaper of content it felt to be inappropriate to the
students. The immaturity of some students in high school was a key
point in the court’s decision, which specifically mentioned the
younger freshmen students.
This case has allowed high school administrators across the
country to censor high school student publications, student
speakers, plays and other activities for being inappropriate to a
high school situation.
The decision on this case could have implications on our campus
and campuses across the country. An outcome in the administration’s
favor applying Hazelwood to colleges could lead to any
school-sponsored student expressive activity (including
student-selected speakers, films, theater and student government)
being subject to administrational approval and censorship,
according to splc.org.
Of course we are opposed to such a situation, but all students
should be concerned about this case – from student government to
student organizations that put on events and bring speakers to
The courts need to consider that we are not in high school and
thus applying a high school case to college is ridiculous. Everyone
in college is either legally an adult or is mature enough to handle
their own affairs.