Whitewash U.

A recent court ruling opens the gates for the censorship of college papers

Goodman says that Hosty, Porche, and Barba, who couldn't afford a lawyer and represented themselves before the Seventh Circuit Court, are planning an appeal to the Supreme Court. Hosty tells the Voice that Lee Levine, a media lawyer who has argued before the nation's highest court, will represent the plaintiffs in their petition to the Supreme Court and in writing the necessary briefs and arguing before the court, should the case receive a hearing.

If the court declines to hear the case, the Seventh Circuit's decision will stand, and Goodman's worry is that it could set a nationwide precedent. "It's kind of like encouragement for schools in other parts of the country that want to censor and are looking for some validation," he says.

In an effort to prevent that, the SPLC is spearheading a campaign to get college journalists to pressure their administrators to issue a statement recognizing that college newspapers are public forums. "If they refuse to do that, [to] publicize that," says Goodman, "we're going to be publishing all the names of those colleges and universities in the Seventh Circuit that haven't designated student media as a public forum, and we'll send the names of those schools to high school journalists and journalism groups to actively discourage them from attending those schools."

The SPLC's Goodman: "Very disturbing"
photo: the Student Press Law Center
The SPLC's Goodman: "Very disturbing"

Call it the sunshine attack. Press freedoms often die quiet, unnoticed deaths. Other than going to the Supreme Court, the only remedy is to make such attacks on press freedoms embarrassingly public, argues Goodman. "We're seeing more college administrators who aren't embarrassed to be censorious, who seem to think it's appropriate and educationally defensible," he says. "Things have definitely gotten worse."

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