'Gangster Censorship' or Business as Usual?
The Theft (and Censorship) of Student Newspapers
Department of Media, Journalism and Film
Southwest Missouri State University
Springfield, MO 65807
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Paper presented to the Scholastic Journalism Division
of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication
2003 annual conference in Kansas City, Missouri
'Gangster Censorship' or Business as Usual?
The Theft (and Censorship) of Student Newspapers
More than 30 years of court decisions have barred administrators at
publicly funded college and university campuses from directly censoring the
student press. But over the past 10 year, students have begun censoring the
campus press by stealing part or all of a day's edition. This paper argues
that administrators who refuse to take disciplinary action against the
paper thieves are engaging in a new form of censorship.
'Gangster Censorship' or Business as Usual?
The Theft (and Censorship) of Student Newspapers
In the span of one week in February 2003, student newspapers at college
campuses at opposite ends of the country fell victim to a disturbing trend
on campus. On February 3 and again on February 5, someone stole 3,000
copies of the Eastern Echo, the student newspaper at Eastern Michigan
University (Two student papers, 2002). Six days later, 3,000 copies of The
Signal at Georgia State University were stolen, replaced in empty newspaper
bins with typed notes reading, "Looking for a Signal? The people have
spoken" (Two student papers, 2003).
One campus newspaper adviser, Tom Evans, called it "gangster censorship"
when thieves hit his campus's student newspaper, The Campus Echo at North
Carolina Central University, making off with all but 100 of the 3,000
copies of that week's edition in 1995 (Suggs, 1995). But advisers and
editors at other campuses might call it "business as usual."
More and more frequently over the past few years, someone upset with a
student-run newspaper steals most or all of an edition of that paper,
sometimes in the name of "freedom of speech." As First Amendment scholar
Paul McMasters (1993) put it ten years ago: "For several years now we've
seen the pattern emerging on too many campuses -- of administrators,
faculty members, students wielding their temporary power to shut up and
shut down anything that makes them uncomfortable or offends them. They
believe in freedom of expression, but only for themselves, not for the
other person" (p. 39). More recently, the Student Press Law Center called
the rampant theft of campus newspapers "an age-old form of censorship"
(Newspaper thieves, 2002).
College campuses, in the traditional view, are liberal enclaves where
faculty and students are free to explore the nuances of society, to reach
their own personal understandings of the way the world is and should be.
But in a departure from the admittedly idyllic view of the campus
environment, campus newspapers are coming under fire. Whether the acts are
committed by campus administrators or by groups of students upset with
coverage or printed opinions, censorship by theft of student newspapers in
the nation's state-financed colleges and universities is on the rise. The
Student Press Law Center reports that college newspaper thefts peaked in
the mid-1990s, with 37 thefts in 1993-94 and 30 during 1994-95 (Dollarhide,
2000). After a drop in the late 1990s, however, the number of thefts
appears to be on the upswing. The Student Press Law Center reported 25 such
incidents in the 2001-2002 school year (Thieves continue, 2002) and 12 more
in just the first half of the 2002-2003 school year (Newspaper thieves, 2002).
This paper will examine the phenomenon of campus newspaper censorship by
exploring the case law concerning direct administrative censorship of
campus newspapers. This paper will examine how administrators often have
tacitly approved of this "gangster" censorship of papers by refusing to
pursue or punish those responsible for the confiscation. (Because privately
financed colleges and universities are not subject to all of the strictures
of the First Amendment, this paper will focus solely on publicly funded
Administrative Limits on Campus Newspapers
While not directly involving freedom of the press issues, two U.S. Supreme
Court decisions have solidified the fundamental First Amendment free
expression rights of students in public schools. In the secondary school
case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, (1969) the Court
ruled, "It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their
constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse
gate" (p. 507). Any doubt that this ruling could be expanded to higher
education was put to rest in 1972 in Healy v. James, when the Court made it
clear, while overturning Central Connecticut State College's refusal to
recognize as an authorized campus association a Students for a Democratic
Society group, that "state colleges and universities are not enclaves
immune from the sweep of the First Amendment" (p. 980).
College and university administrators have tried to control the content of
student-run newspapers through a variety of means, and virtually all these
methods have been ruled by the courts to be an abridgment of First
Amendment rights in light of the decisions in Tinker and Healy.
In one such method, campus administrators have attempted to punish
editors, either through firing, suspension or outright expulsion, as a
penalty for printing "improper" or "indecent" material. In Trujillo v. Love
(1971), the managing editor of the Southern Colorado State University
student newspaper, the Arrow, was suspended from her job for attempting to
publish an editorial cartoon criticizing the university president and for
submitting to the paper's faculty adviser a proposed editorial criticizing
a municipal judge. In ordering Dorothy Trujillo reinstated as managing
editor, the District Court held that she had been improperly punished for
exercising her right of free expression. The issue of punishing students
for printing or attempting to print unpopular commentary reached the U.S.
Supreme Court two years later in Papish v. Board of Curators of the
University of Missouri et al (1973) when a graduate student at the
University of Missouri was expelled for distributing on campus an
underground newspaper that school officials said contained "indecent
speech." In ordering the student's reinstatement, the per curiam decision
said it was clear her expulsion was caused by the content of the newspaper,
and not because of permissible rules regulating the time, place and manner
of its distribution. "We think Healy makes it clear that the mere
dissemination of ideas -- no matter how offensive to good taste -- on a
state university campus may not be shut off in the name alone of
'conventions of decency" (p. 670).
A second administrative method of controlling student press content is
through restriction of funding. Most student-run campus newspapers receive
funding from several sources, including advertising revenues, subscription
fees on- and/or off-campus, and student fees, normally collected and
distributed as part of the campus fees package (Tenhoff, 1991). In several
cases, campus administrators have tried to punish or otherwise control
student newspapers by restricting the availability of student fees. In
Joyner v. Whiting (1973), the president of North Carolina Central
University, upset over the editorial stance taken in the student-run Campus
Echo, terminated the newspaper's financial support from the university and
refunded to each student the pro rata share of activities fees that would
have gone to the paper had funding continued. The court overturned the
president's actions and ordered funding restored, ruling that while a
state-funded university can't be forced to establish a campus newspaper,
once one is established, school officials may discontinue funding only for
reasons unrelated to the First Amendment: "If a college has a student
newspaper, its publication cannot be suppressed because college officials
dislike its editorial comment" (p. 460). The Eighth Circuit Court of
Appeals struck down an attempt by University of Minnesota Board of Regents
to cut fees distributed to The Minnesota Daily (Stanley v. McGrath, 1983).
In that case, school officials were infuriated by a scatological issue of
the campus newspaper that satirized religious, social and political figures
and customs. In response, the Board of Regents imposed a new funding system
that would allow any student to obtain a refund of the part of student fees
that went to fund the newspaper. In the proceeding months, the amount of
student fees going to fund student publications was increased, but not as
much as it would have been had the refunding system not been in place. The
appeals court, citing the precedent in Joyner, Whiting and other cases,
ruled that "A public university may not constitutionally take adverse
action against a student newspaper, such as withdrawing or reducing the
paper's funding, because it disapproves of the content of the paper"
(p.282). While these cases involve overall funding of the student
newspaper, Antonelli v. Hammond (1970) showed that administrators can't
limit student newspapers by a one-time restriction of funding, either. In
Antonelli, the District Court ruled that the Fitchburg State College
president violated students' First Amendment protections when he refused
funding for an issue of the campus newspaper, the Cycle, that he felt was
obscene. The Court ruled that by refusing funding for the issue, the
college president was restricting the flow of information to that solely
approved of by the state.
A third method of administrative control over student publication, through
official university censors, is hinted at in Hazelwood School District v.
Kuhlmeier (1987). In Hazelwood, the Court abandoned the Tinker holding that
official censorship of student expression was unconstitutional unless the
expression materially disrupted class work or caused substantial disorder.
The Hazelwood Court found a difference between purely student expression,
as in Tinker, and expression using a school name and resources, as did the
high school newspaper at the heart of the case. In that case, the Court
said, educators can exercise editorial control over the "style and content"
of school-sponsored student expression "as long as their actions are
reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns" (p. 273). While the
Hazelwood ruling concerned only student publications in secondary schools,
in an ominous footnote, the Court said in an aside that it need not decide
at that point whether the same "reasonableness" standard expounded in
Hazelwood would apply to school-sponsored expression at the college and
university level (p. 274).
It appeared for a time that U.S. District Judge Joseph Hood in the Eastern
District of Kentucky and the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals were ready
to apply the Hazelwood prior review standard to college publications
(Kincaid v. Gibson, 1997). That case began when the Kentucky State
University administration refused to distribute The Thorobred, the student
yearbook (distributed every two years). In 1994, Kentucky State
administrators refused to distribute the 1992-94 edition of the yearbook
because of its content. Among the administration's complaints were that the
yearbook cover was printed in purple, not the school colors of yellow and
green, and that instead of signifying it was from Kentucky State, the cover
bore the legend "destination unknown." In addition, administrators said the
yearbook did not appropriately identify all KSU students who were pictured
and that the yearbook contained too much current event information
unrelated to the KSU campus. Finally, administrators said the yearbook was
overdue and the yearbook staff had exhausted most of its university-funded
Two students -- one a student who paid the mandatory $80 student fee
entitling him to a copy of the yearbook, the other Thorobred Editor Capri
Cofer -- sued in U.S. District Court, alleging that the administrators'
actions violated their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech by
censoring the yearbook. In his summary ruling, Judge Hood noted that
well-established case law provides that the government can regulate speech
in a public forum only if it has a narrow and compelling reason to do so.
He also noted the 1973 Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Bazaar v.
Fortune, in which the appeals court, overturning the administration's
censorship of a student literary magazine at the University of Mississippi
because of objections to the magazine's content, stated in dicta that it
considered student publications such as newspapers and yearbooks to be
But Hood's decision also noted that the Supreme Court's Hazelwood decision
specifically found that the school newspaper in that case was part of the
curriculum and had never been intended to be a public forum; because the
administration had not intended to open the pages of the paper to the
public and instead was using it as an educational tool, administrative
control over its content was permissible as long as it was reasonable. Hood
ruled that Kentucky State had never intended The Thorobred to be a public
forum; because it was student publication prepared by students and
distributed to students, the yearbook was not a public forum, so Kentucky
State administrators were entitled to exert control over the content of The
Thorobred. A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit initially upheld Hood,
but the ruling was vacated and the entire 6th Circuit, sitting en banc,
overturned Hood and ordered that the yearbook be released to students
(Kincaid v. Gibson, 2001). The appeals court said it found no link between
Hazelwood and the college yearbook.
Meanwhile, officials at Governor's State University also have attempted to
apply Hazelwood to a college publication (Hosty v. Carter, 2003). The 7th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in early 2003 from the
Illinois Attorney General's office, which contends that Hazelwood allows
university officials to censor a student newspaper (Appellate Court, 2003).
In this case, the student newspaper, The Innovator, had not been published
since the dean of student affairs order a commercial publisher not to print
the student paper unless it had been reviewed by school officials. The
newspaper's editor and managing editor and staff members filed suit against
the university and several university officials, including the dean of
students, Patricia Carter. All defendants except Carter were dismissed from
the suit (Appellate court). During the appeals court hearing, Illinois
Assistant Attorney General Mary Welsh told the court that there is
"uncertainty" concerning the law regarding the First Amendment rights of
college students, citing specifically the Hazelwood case (Appellate court).
The Hosty case remains unresolved as of early 2003.
Other methods of controlling student publications also have failed. In
Antonelli, in addition to prohibiting the college president from cutting
funding for the student-run newspaper, the District Court barred university
officials from requiring that future issues of the publication be approved
by an advisory board appointed by the school president. The Court noted
that any direct prior restraint of expression, such as an advisory board
with censorship powers, goes to the very heart of the First Amendment and
faces a heavy presumption against its validity. In Trujillo, in addition
to finding the suspension of the student newspaper managing editor to be
unconstitutional, the District Court found that the appointment of a
faculty adviser who was to rule before publication on "controversial"
material was designed to "rein in" the student editor's expression and was
therefore impermissible. No courts have ruled that student publications
are not subject to some restraints. In addition to restraints facing the
news media at large, such as punishment for libel, obscenity, and invasion
of privacy, student publications also are subject to the strictures
contained in Tinker, which states that student expression may not
materially and substantially interfere with appropriate school discipline
and operation. But as the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals stated succinctly
The principles reaffirmed in Healy have been extensively applied to strike
down every form of censorship of student publications at state-supported
institutions. Censorship of constitutionally protected expression cannot be
imposed by suspending the editors, suppressing circulation, requiring
imprimatur of controversial articles, excising repugnant material,
withdrawing financial support, or asserting any other form of censorial
oversight based on the institution's power of the purse. (p. 460)
The New Censorship
If administrators are specifically prohibited by court decisions from
censoring campus newspapers (pending the outcome of Hosty v.Carter),
students on a growing number of campuses have taken the job on themselves.
The theft of student newspapers is a symptom of what can be called "the new
censorship." At San Diego State University in 2002, thieves stole more than
6,000 copies of the 15,000 press run of the Daily Aztec because of cartoons
critics said were culturally offensive; one depicted Saddam Hussein and
Yasser Arafat as camels, and the other depicted an overweigh Chinese man
(Newspaper thieves, 2003). Other California universities were also hit by
thieves. The University of California-Long Beach and the University of
California at Riverside were hit in Spring 2002, with the Highlander at
UC-Riverside losing nearly all of one edition, replaced by fliers accusing
the paper of publishing hate speech (Newspaper thefts, 2002). At the
University of California at Berkeley, in one of the more bizarre cases,
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates admitted trashing 1,000 copies of The Daily
Californian issue that endorsed his opponent one day before the city
election (Berkeley mayor, 2002).
But thefts haven't been confined to California. The University of Alabama's
student newspaper, The Crimson White, lost 2,200 papers, or 15 percent of
its press run, on March 13, 2002, presumably, the editors said, because of
controversial stories about student government (Stories on track team,
2002). In 1999, some 6,000 copies of The Maneater at the University of
Missouri-Columbia disappeared out of distribution bins; the editor cited
opposition to a story about a missing student, former campus president of
the Legion of Black Collegians, who was gay and HIV positive (Taylor,
1999). In South Carolina, thieves made off with 8,000 of the October 13,
2000, edition of The Tiger, with a normal press run of 12,000 (Thieves
grab, 2000). The editors were unsure of the reason, calling it either a
prank or a reaction to one of several stories in that issue. Thieves stole
1,600 copies of The Spinnaker at the University of North Florida (Newspaper
thefts, 2002). At Emporia State College, someone shredded 800 copies of
The Bulletin (Newspaper thefts, 2002).
Ohio State University's The Lantern lost about a 10,000 copies, or about a
third of its daily circulation, when copies were stolen by student
government leaders upset with a story about their use of $2,250 in student
government funds for an extravagant evening out (OSU student leaders,
2001). Most of the 19,000 copies of the Daily Collegian at the University
of Massachusetts-Amherst were stolen in May 1992 after days of protest over
the newspaper's decision not to publish an editorial criticizing the
verdict in the Rodney King beating trial (Free speech on campus,
1993). The Badger-Herald at the University of Wisconsin-Madison had
several bundles of newspapers stolen and thrown into Dumpsters in April
1993 by protesters offended by a staff cartoonist's comic strip satirizing
Native America sports mascots (Free speech on campus, 1993). In November
1993, about 10,000 copies of the University of Maryland campus newspaper
disappeared from several buildings and were replaced by a leaflet that
read, "Due to its racist nature, The Diamondback will not be available
today" (Bundles of papers, 1993). The newspaper had been the subject of
complaints that it didn't use enough minority models in a fashion spread,
and that a story about a summer traffic accident that claimed the lives of
three black students did not reflect enough of a sense of tragedy (Leo,
1993). An officer of the Black Student Union, which represents about 3,000
black University of Maryland students, called the incident "a valid form of
protest. It's non-violent, and whoever did it got their point across"
(Bundles of papers). At Salem State College in February 1995,
African-American students upset with reports of arrests at a dance
sponsored by the African-American Student Association confiscated about
1,500 copies of the Salem State Log from distribution sites and deposited
them at the campus newspaper office (Thefts reported, 1995).
Sometimes, the mere threat of confiscation is enough to silence the student
press. At Marshall University in West Virginia, editors of the student
newspaper, The Parthenon, angered the university president and many others
when they printed the name of a student who had filed a rape complaint in
1990 (Wolper, 1993). Publication of the student's name, authorized by the
newspaper's student editorial board, caused an outcry on campus, leading to
the restructuring of the board that selects the student editors (Wolper,
1993). In January 1993, a second woman was assaulted. Editors at The
Parthenon learned the woman's name and were preparing to print it when the
campus exploded again, with several groups threatening to seize and destroy
any copies that contained her name. Greg Collard, the newspaper's editor at
the time, took the threats seriously, overruling the student editorial
board and refusing to identify the woman because it would be impossible for
The Parthenon to publish if it had printed her name (Wolper, 1993).
Administrative Response to Newspaper Thefts
Administrative response to the incidents of newspaper seizure or
destruction has ranged from aggressive punishment to tacit, and even
outright, approval. At the University of North Florida, where 1,600 copies
were stolen, three students and a fourth person wrote a letter to the
editor apologizing for the thefts, but campus police have refused to
investigate because the papers are available for free and therefore, police
said, no theft occurred (Newspaper thefts, 2002). At the University of
Wisconsin-Madison, campus officials did not condemn the theft of newspapers
because of the satirical cartoon over team mascots, offering instead to set
up a meeting between the protesters and the editors. The newspaper's
editor, Jodi Cohen, refused to attend the meeting sought by Dean of
Students Mary K. Rouse, saying, "There was no question there was a First
Amendment right to print (the comic strip). The question is whether you
tolerate speech you disagree with. Dean Rouse didn't see that" (Culver,
1993, p. 12). Associate Dean of Students Roger Howard contended there was
no theft in any case; because the newspapers were free, they couldn't be
stolen (Culver, 1993). Administrators likewise failed to respond to thefts
at Florida State University and Northern Illinois University (Leo, 1993).
At Boise State University in October 1994, the theft of 800 copies of the
Arbiter was reported to campus police, who said nothing could be done
because the paper's masthead said it was "free" (Thefts reported, 1995).
Campus police had the same response when the theft of 1,000 copies of the
College City Times at San Jose City College was reported the same month
(Thefts reported, 1995). At the University of North Texas, campus police
refused to pursue a criminal investigation after 9,000 copies of the North
Texas Daily were stolen in early 2001, saying because the paper is free to
students no theft occurred (Taylor, 2001). At the State University of New
York at Albany, The College Standard Magazine lost 1,000 copies of the
magazine's 4,000-copy press run in October 2002, and another 750 copies
were stolen the next day (Two universities, 2002). A university spokesman
said police were investigating but were having trouble determining whether
any law had been broken. "One of the difficulties of ascertaining what type
of criminal act has been committed is that the copies are free," said
spokesman Carl Luntta (Two universities, 2002).
The failure to act has not been limited to administrators and campus
police. In Louisiana, a judge dismissed criminal property damage charges
against a Louisiana State University student who burned 1,000 copies of
LSU's Tiger Weekly; the judge said that because the papers were free, they
belonged to the student as soon as he took them and could do with them as
he pleased (Taylor, 2001). Maryland's state's attorney refused to prosecute
over the theft of the Diamondback and the repeated theft from public
libraries of a Washington weekly for gays (Chartrad, 1994). The state's
attorney, Matthew Campbell, said the papers were free of charge do not have
the same legal status as papers for which people pay. His argument had two
points: the papers didn't "belong" to anyone, because they were available
merely by picking them up, and the papers had no "value" because there was
no sales price (Chartrad, 1994). Maryland's Legislature responded by
amending the state's laws on crime and punishment making it a misdemeanor,
punishable by a fine of up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail, to steal
newspapers otherwise offered for free, if the offender "knowingly obtains
or exerts unauthorized control over newspapers with the intent to prevent
other individuals from reading the newspapers" (Maryland Code, Article 27,
Section 45). So far, no other states have taken similar action.
At the other end of the spectrum, some university administrators and other
officials have been taking steps to punish those who steal campus
publications. At Temple University, after thieves stole nearly all 9,000
copies of one edition of The Temple News in February 2002, a freshman who
had been featured in a front-page story about an alleged fraud scheme
admitted he stole the papers; the university instituted disciplinary
proceedings against the student (Newspaper thefts, 2002). According to
Temple News editor Brian Swope said the campus security department also
began an investigation into the student's accomplice, but only after
expressing doubt by asking "How was it theft if it was free" (Newspaper
thefts, 2002). At Ohio State University, where the student paper was hit by
thieves upset over an article about student government spending abuses, the
university put six students on probation and ordered them to repay The
Lantern $3,300 to reimburse the paper for printing expenses and for free
ads from advertisers who complained about the reduced circulation (OSU
leaders, 2001). At the University of California at Berkeley, city Mayor
Tom Bates apologized and was fined $100 for petty theft for trashing 1,000
copies of the campus newspaper. He also agreed to pay $500 in restitution
to the newspaper and to push for state legislation making it a crime to
steal multiple copies of free newspapers (Burress, 2003).
Unfortunately for the nation's student press, however, such aggressive
attempts to punish those who seize campus newspapers are not universal.
When nearly 4,000 copies of The Vista's 5,000 press run were taken in March
2002, over an article about two former football players facing trial for
posting sexually explicit photos of a female student on the Internet and
distributing her personal information on campus, police and the district
attorney said they were having trouble believing the theft of the free
paper "was worth their time," editor Beth Hull reported (Newspaper at Okla.
University, 2002). At the University of Wisconsin-Stout, campus police
refused to investigate the theft of 2,000 copies of The Stoutonia, saying
because the papers are free "it's not theft" (University of Wisconsin,
2001). Ironically, vandals at one school realized the likelihood that the
theft of student newspapers in most places will go unpunished. The entire
press run of 16,000 copies of the Red and Black at the University of
Georgia was stolen in May 1993. An anonymous caller said the theft was a
prank that would go unpunished because of the lack punishment in similar
incidents at other schools.
The courts have frowned on administrative attempts at outright censorship
of campus newspapers at state-supported colleges and universities. However,
some students and administrators have found a new way to censor the
nation's student press -- through the theft of newspapers. Mark Goodman,
executive director of the Student Press Law Center, reports that while some
newspaper thieves have been punished, "If someone hears of a newspaper
theft happening and they realize that there are no punishments for this
sort of crime, people are more likely to do it" (Dollarhide, 2000). Jake
Wigman, editor of The Maneater at the University of Missouri-Columbia, put
it succinctly when 6,000 copies of one edition were stolen: "They may think
they are doing an act of civil disobedience, but it is actually censorship
in its basic form" (Taylor, 1999).
One problem student publications face is that are often free to students,
giving some authorities grounds for ignoring what they say isn't "theft."
Even free newspapers, however, have value. The University of North
Florida's The Spinnaker lost $1,400 in printing costs when 1,000 copies of
an edition were stolen and had to pay $900 more to reprint the missing
papers (Stories on track team, 2002). The University of Alabama's The
Crimson White lost an estimated $1,700 in printing costs and advertising
revenues when 15 percent of its 15,000-copy press run was stolen (Stories
on track team, 2002). The theft of student papers often hits not only the
paper, but also the university, in the purse. Kopenhaver and Spielberger
(1987), reporting the results of a survey of college media advisers, found
that 49.3 percent of student newspapers received all or part of their
funding from student activity fees. Kopenhaver and Spielberger (1989)
reported results of a survey showing that 27.6 percent of campus newspapers
generate 50 percent or more of their funding from student activity fees.
And Ingelhart (1979), in an earlier report, wrote that 90 percent of campus
newspapers receive funding from college general funds or student fees.
Campus administrators might be persuaded to take disciplinary action
against those who steal student newspapers if they can be convinced that
such action is to their financial benefit.
Also, the Student Press Law Center urges campus newspapers, as a way to
make sure newspaper thefts are treated seriously, to publish a statement in
each issue stating that one copy is free but additional copies have a price
(Theft checklist, undated). But even placing a statement on the newspaper
saying the first copy is free and additional copies cost money, however,
isn't enough to persuade authorities to pursue an investigation. At the
University of Wisconsin-Stout, police refused to investigate the theft of
The Stoutonia even though the paper prints in each issue that after the
first free copy, additional copies cost 25 cents each (University of
The courts have been clear since the early 1970s that administrators at
publicly funded campuses cannot engage in direct (through prepublication
review) or indirect (through funding reductions) censorship of the student
press. Whether intentional or not, campus administrators who fail to take
aggressive disciplinary action against newspaper thieves are allowing
creation of a new form of censorship by theft, creating an atmosphere, as
First Amendment scholar Paul McMasters (1993) put it, that is "poisonous to
free expression and the very antithesis of what the institution of higher
education is supposed to represent." Some administrators are giving lip
service to the First Amendment while at the same time allowing students,
and occasionally others, to engage in censorship by theft. By refusing to
take a decisive stance in favor of a free press and by tolerating or even
encouraging the theft of campus newspapers, college and university
administrators are violating the spirit of a long history of freedom of
expression on campus.
Antonelli v. Hammond. (1970). 308 F.Supp. 1329 (D. Mass.).
Appellate court hears oral arguments in college censorship case. (2003)
Student Press Law Center. Accessed Feb. 24, 2003.
Bazaar v. Fortune. (1973). 476 F 2d. 570.
Berkeley mayor apologizes for trashing campus newspapers. (December 12,
2002). The Associated Press. Freedom Forum Online. Accessed Feb. 26, 2003.
Bundles of paper disappear after accusations of racism. (November 3, 1993).
The New York Times. A-13.
Burress, C. (January 9, 2003). Mayor walks with $100 fine. The San
Francisco Chronicle. A17.
Chartrad, Sara. (April 8, 1994) In Maryland, taking free papers in protest
may soon be a crime. The New York Times. B-16.
Culver, Kate. (1993). Campus fires: dissenters steal, destroy student
papers." Quill 81 (October) 12.
Dollarhide, M. (2000). Student newspaper theft waning, but still vexing.
The Freedom Forum Online. Accessed Feb. 26, 2003. www.freedomforum.org.
Free speech on campus? It's a matter of debate. (September 24, 1993). New
York Times. B-11.
Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier. (1987). 484 U.S. 260.
Healy v. James. (1972). 408 U.S. 169.
Hosty v. Carter. (2003). No. 01-4155. (7th Circuit)
Ingelhart, L.E. (1979). 1979: the campus student press in America. College
Press Review, 18, 49-63.
Joyner v. Whiting. (1973). 477 F.2d. 456 (4th Cir).
Kincaid v. Gibson. (1997). 95-98 (E.D. KY, filed Nov. 14, 1997). Accessed
Feb. 24, 1998). http://www.splc.org/newsflash/111497ksuruling.html.
Kincaid v. Gibson. (2001). 236 F.3d 342.
Kopenhaver, L.L., & Spielberger, R.E. (1987). Student media profile.
College Media Review, 26, 13-17.
Kopenhaver, L.L., & Spielberger, R.E. (1989). Are independent college
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