Good news for student journalists with nosy administrators: North Dakota’s Legislature has approved a bill that would guarantee their right to publish as long as it doesn’t “cause a substantial disruption to the operation of the school.”
The Student Press Law Center reports that North Dakota would be the eighth state to have such protections against censorship for student journalists.
And lawmakers already took out a poison pill:
On Monday, the House Education Committee chairman reviewed and conferred the Senate’s amendments, including the removal of language that would have created guidelines for the prior review of student publications at colleges. [Sponsoring Rep. Alex] Looysen said the House unanimously passed the bill as amended.
The governor’s expected to sign the bill, but there’s more work to be done:
As the proposal approaches law, [Valley City State University professor Steve] Listopad said he would like to keep the momentum going by working on rules that would extend additional free-speech protections for students at private schools and colleges — a proposal that lawmakers nixed early in the legislative process.
Steve Andrist, the North Dakota Newspaper Association’s executive director, said the legislation is an important step forward for student journalists, adding that it was gratifying “that the student free press movement has been reinvigorated by a little thing that was able to happen in a small, obscure, rural state like North Dakota.”
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