Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Higher Ed Cmte. to consider Campus Press Act

From the Chicago Headline Club:

We just received word that the College Campus Press Act, Senate Bill 729, will be considered by the Illinois House Higher Education Committee on Thursday, May 10, at 8:30 a.m. in the Stratton Building, Room D-1, Springfield, IL.

If you haven't put in a word with the committee and want to, time is running short.
At last count, we know of four members who say they will vote for the bill. Committee chair Kevin McCarthy (D-Orland Park) has publicly supported the bill, saying "I don't think censorship has that many supporters from the General Assembly." Vice-chair Naomi Jakobsson (D-Champaign) and member Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) are sponsoring the bill; Robert Pritchard (R-Sycamore) has also pledged his support.

SB729 would bestow "public forum" status on student-produced campus media at state-supported institutions. Collegiate journalists have the opportunity, rare among their peers, to practice openly in their field of study before they begin their careers. This work teaches them the responsibility and good decision-making they will use later, as professionals, when they cover significant events at the local, state and federal levels. When college administrators rob collegiate journalists of these rights early in their training, they rob the public of the quality journalism that is so essential to a healthy democracy.

The 7th U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in Hosty v. Carter compromises this ability by permitting prior review and restraint of collegiate media and sets a dangerous precedent for future rulings. We believe Hosty is bad law, and we believe SB729 is a good remedy. It gives Illinois a chance to become a leader in collegiate student press rights and grants no protections to speech not protected by the U.S. Constitution. Neither would it place any legal responsibility on the shoulders of college administrators. Instead, it establishes all collegiate media as open forums and holds editors accountable for what they publish.

We encourage you to contact a committee member from your area, along with the committee chairman. For "Macombey-homeys," that means firing off a letter or phone call to state Rep. Rich Myers. His e-mail addresses are rmyers@hdsmail.state.il.us and repmyers@macomb.com.

Chairperson :
Kevin A. McCarthy

Vice-Chairperson :
Naomi D. Jakobsson

Republican Spokesperson :
Mike Bost

Daniel V. Beiser

William B. Black

Dan Brady

James D. Brosnahan

John D'Amico

Roger L. Eddy

Mary E. Flowers

Constance A. Howard

David E. Miller

Richard P. Myers

Robert W. Pritchard

Jil Tracy