New Voices movement seeks to ensure freedoms for students at all schools

Bailey Ayres, Sports Editor

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of… or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” states the first amendment of the United States Constitution.

Yet, a 1988 court case, Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, ruled that school administrators at a public high school could exercise editorial control over student speech, limiting first amendment rights for writers at school newspapers.

In 2005, this standard was expanded to include college newspapers in certain circumstances.

The court case, Hosty v. Carter, applied a “public forum” test to college media. If the media outlet had been previously established as a public forum, then no censorship could occur. But if the newspaper was considered a non-public forum and was supported by public funds, then it could be open to “reasonable regulation.”

Today, the New Voices movement seeks to restore the Tinker Standard (1967) of student expression. Tinker protects students’ speech unless the speech involves libel, an invasion of privacy, or creates danger and/or creates a disruption in the school.

Because individual states are allowed to generate laws that are more lenient than both the Hazelwood and Hosty standards, North Dakota, Illinois, and Maryland have already passed laws to protect student journalists from censorship. Minnesota and seven other states currently have bills in session.

The movement is just getting underway in Wisconsin, sponsored by Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison).

“The first amendment isn’t just something we learn in school. It’s a right we need to exercise,” is one of the mottos of the New Voices of Wisconsin movement.

New Voices is pushing to give students the right to free speech and press without having the administration stepping in and editing what is published in the school’s newspaper. It also provides protection for the newspapers and/or media advisors to help support freedom of speech for their students.

This standard does not just apply to student journalists; it also applies to every student. Even if you are not a part of the newspaper, you have a right to express your ideas freely. Know your rights. Exercise your right to have free speech as a college student.