Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Whoopie! Fantastic!

Illinois' governor, Rod Blagojevich, signed the College Campus Press Act sometime last week. It was included in a press release dated Aug. 31 that was made available to the media today.

The law will take effect Jan. 1, 2008, and it automatically makes every student newspaper at every public college and university in the state a "designated public forum." What that means, in general, is that the administrations at those schools cannot block stories or issues ahead of time. Stuent editors are in complete control of the decision-making about content. And it should be pointed out that paid advisers (sometimes faculty, sometimes staff members in student activities offices, etc.) are among the "administrators" who should leave the content decisions to student particpants in campus media.

Of course, student editors will make errors in judgment (personally, I think the "swingset beer bong" photograph and accompanying caption in the Courier recently was a significant error in judgment), but college media experiences ARE learning experiences! We learn from our mistakes.

The College Campus Press Act was created because, in 2000, a dean at Governors State near Chicago stopped the printing of the school's paper until she could review all of its contents first. A federal appeals court ruling in 2005 seemed to give other schools the go-ahead to do the same under certain conditions, and the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006 failed to take the case and "right this wrong." This legislation is Illinois' way of righting this wrong. And I say "whoopee!"