Student Press Freedom Day 2020 and Why It Matters

Jan. 29 is Student Press Freedom Day. What does that mean for CSU students?


    The Student Press Law Center is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that supports the rights of student journalists like the staff at The Saber. Every year, the organization assists student journalist groups and presses by providing training and legal assistance at no charge.

   The SPLC was established in 1974 to support the students’ rights listed in the First Amendment, especially freedom of the press. The foundation’s directors consists of professionals—and students—in the legal and journalistic field who share the belief that student presses should be able to participate in local and national civics. 

   The SPLC website contains a plethora of resources for students, educators, volunteer attorneys, and school administrators. Anyone can learn how to write a request to access public records and file complaints; the website also has simple guides to the Clery Act—a law which requires all public universities and colleges to disclose crime-related information happening on campus.

    Supreme Court case Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier inspired Student Press Freedom Day. The principal of Hazelwood East High School, located in Missouri, censored the school newspaper from publishing a teen issue concerning teen pregnancy and the effects of divorce on teenagers. 

   The staff of the newspaper sued, leading to a district court case. At first, the court ruled that the Hazelwood principal did not violate the students’ First Amendment Rights, but the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed their decision. 

   Then, the Supreme Court reversed that decision. They held that high-school sponsored newspapers without a policy that clearly makes it a public forum could be censored by school officials.

   The case expanded the control a school could exercise over student speech and press. The SPLC encourages students to learn about this case and how it affected their First Amendment rights.

   The SPLC encourages students to participate in Student Press Freedom Day by discussing the First Amendment and press freedom or help raise visibility on social media. SPLC can be found on Twitter @SPLC, on Instagram @studentpresslawcenter, and they have a Facebook page.