New Oregon Law Guarantees High School, College Press Rights

By: E&P Staff

Oregon is giving the high school and college student press back to students.

Under a bill signed into law Friday by Gov. Ted Kulongoski, students are guaranteed free-press rights at their school’s newspaper or other media.

“Student journalists are responsible for determining content of school-sponsored media,” the law states.

The law was introduced in March by Rep. Larry Galizio, and passed by a vote of 16-14 in the state Senate and 29-16 in the House of Representatives.

The law is the first student press rights law to be enacted by a state since 1995, according to Washington, D.C.-based Student Press Law Center (SPLC).

In an article by SPLC staff writer Judy Wang, Galizio said he planned to introduce amendments to strengthen the new law after the summer recess. Among those measures would be a law prohibiting the firing or reassignment of a student press advisor who refuses to censor student media.

The new law was adopted in response to several First Amendment violations in Oregon schools in the past few years, said the bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Brad Witt.

“In many instances, the silencing the press has come before the importance of journalistic freedom, and I think that is backwards,” Witt told the SPLC. “Nothing would be more important than having students be able to access their rights.”

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