5.7.1 Student Publications

A. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to set forth rules and regulations for the establishment, administration, and operation of official student publications.

B. Persons Affected

The person’s affected are the students with The Patriot Talon, and the advisor to the newspaper.

C. Definitions

Student publications and communication media come under the jurisdiction of the Student Media Advisory Board (the Board) if the publications/media receive funds by direct allocation from student fees as recommended to the president by the student fee committee; are written, edited and published by students; and are neither “lab” publications nor co-curricular activities.

Current publications that fall under the above definition include The Patriot, a newspaper published by students of The University of Texas at Tyler.

All student publications/media should explicitly and prominently state, “This is a student publication [or insert other medium for “publication”] and the opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the administration, faculty, staff, alumni or student body of the University.”

D. Policy and Procedures

  1. Preamble

    Student publications and the student press are a valuable aid in establishing and maintaining an atmosphere of free inquiry, responsible discussion, and intellectual exploration on the campus. They are a means of bringing student concerns to the attention of the faculty and the administration and of formulating student opinion on various issues on and off the campus.

    Student journalists have the right to determine the editorial content of student publications. This substantial editorial freedom requires a corresponding responsibility for student journalists to be governed by professional standards, avoiding impermissible speech (such as libel) and pursuing truth and fairness in the strongest possible way.

  2. Purpose

    The role of the Student Media Advisory Board is to assist student media in meeting the highest standards of responsible professional practice, including accuracy and fairness; to provide maximum opportunity for an educational experience; and to ensure that, within the bounds of the law, editors are free to develop their own editorial policies and make their own judgments.

  3. Composition of the Student Media Advisory Board

    1. Membership-total of 11

      Five (5) students, one from each college, appointed by their respective deans. These students may not be members of the Student Government Association or members of the staff of any student publication.

      Three (3) faculty members, one (1) from the Department of Communication and one (1) from the University at large, both appointed directly by the president of the University, and one (1) at large appointed by the Faculty Senate President with the concurrence of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee.

      One (1)Chief Student Affairs Officer or his/her designee.

      Two (2) professional journalists, both appointed directly by the president.

    2. Appointment Date

      All appointments will be made no later than April 15 each year for the following academic year, except in the first year when appointments will be made as soon as is practical or when this student media policy is approved by U.T. System.

    3. Terms of Office

      The term of office for all board members shall be one year. Members may serve consecutive terms up to a maximum of three years, after which they must remain off the board for at least two consecutive years. They may then be reappointed to annual one-year terms, again up to a maximum of three years for that cycle.

  4. Operating Procedures

    1. The Board shall elect its own chairperson, who shall have a vote in all issues and the authority to adjudicate a tie vote.

    2. Meetings of the Board shall be open to the public and shall occur at least once a semester during the academic year. The chairperson or a majority of the voting members of the Board, providing that notice is given three (3) days in advance, may call additional meetings.

    3. A quorum shall consist of a majority of the voting members.

    4. The Board shall establish such further operating procedures as it deems necessary to carry out its responsibilities and duties as outlined below. These further operating procedures shall be submitted in writing to the President of the University for his/her approval.

  5. Responsibilities and Duties

    1. To ensure students’ rights to freedom of the press and free speech within the bounds of the law.

    2. To set minimum qualifications for managing editors of student media.

    3. To establish a procedure for election or appointment of managing editors of student media. Selection for the following year shall be made by April 1 of each year, beginning April 1, 2003.

    4. To consult with and advise editors on the development of written policies that will guide day-to-day editorial decisions.

    5. To hear complaints against editors. Complaints may be brought by any persons only after all other remedies have been exhausted, first by talking with the reporter, writer or editor involved, and then by talking with the publication editor. Complaints must be made in writing.

    6. To recommend to the appropriate dean, or other appropriate university administrator, reprimanding or removing an editor. If the Board determines that matters warrant such action, a hearing shall be conducted with appropriate notice at least ten (10) business days in advance. Any decision to recommend reprimanding or removing an editor requires a majority vote.

    7. To establish a procedure for the selection of advisers to publications, who may be tenure-track faculty members, lecturers, or staff members, either full- or part-time. In the case of the student newspaper, the adviser may or may not be expected also to teach in the Department of Communication or other department. If expected to teach, selection must be made in consultation and agreement with the Department of Communication or other department.

    8. To recommend to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, or other appropriate university administrator, reprimanding or removing an adviser to a student publication. If the Board determines that matters warrant such action, a hearing shall be held. Any recommendation to reprimand or remove an adviser requires a majority vote. Notice of any meeting at which such a vote is to be taken must be given at least ten (10) business days in advance. The final determination to reprimand or remove an adviser will be made by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences or other appropriate University administrator according to established policies of the University.

    9. To advise any publication adviser of media editor on any matter as requested, or as deemed appropriate by the Board.

  6. Limitations

    1. Student Media

      1. Students may not publish or distribute material that is “obscene,” as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court and the laws of Texas. Student editors and reporters should be mindful that they are writing for and editing publications intended for the U.T. Tyler community of students, staff, faculty and friends. Students should approach their tasks with a sense of propriety and good taste.

      2. Students may not publish or distribute libelous material. Libel is a serious concern for all publications and other media. Student editors and reporters will make every effort to ensure material in student publications is true, accurate and balanced. Mistakes should be corrected and retracted speedily and graciously. Any student editor or reporter who knowingly submits false or fictitious information for publication will be subject to immediate sanctions up to and including dismissal from the publication staff, as well as expulsion from U.T. Tyler through the standard disciplinary process. Photographs that are altered materially to change their meaning fall into the category of false and fictitious information.

      3. Students may not publish or distribute material intended to cause “a material and substantial disruption of college activities.” Material that stimulates heated discussion or debate does not constitute the type of disruption prohibited.

    2. The University and the Board

      1. Neither the University nor the Board may review content prior to distribution or withhold the medium from distribution. Faculty advisers are expected to teach students about free speech and its limitations-i.e., perform the duty of giving accurate and appropriate advice regarding students’ application of their knowledge to their journalistic enterprise.

      2. Neither the University nor the Board may ban a publication or sanction the editor solely because content is controversial or the publication takes minority opinions, provided, however, that upon a finding that published material was obscene, libelous, defamatory, false or fictitious information, invaded privacy, or created a material and substantial disruption of the university, an editor shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action by the University or the Board.

      3. The University may not cut off student fee funds from a student publication because of disagreement over a particular editorial policy or position taken at a particular time.

      4. Neither the University nor the Board may prohibit the endorsement of candidates for student office or for public office at any level.

E. Responsibilities

The student newspaper advisor shall be full-time employee of The University of Texas at Tyler appointed by the Chair of the Department of Communications, subject to the approval of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs. The student newspaper advisor shall provide professional guidance, training, and support to the editors and staff of the student newspaper. The advisor shall be available to advise the student editor with regard to issues related to good journalistic practice and ethics, but in so doing the advisor will serve as counselor rather than censor. Under no circumstances will material be withheld from publication without the editor’s consent unless the advisor believes such material is indicative of illegal speech.

Following are some of the duties of the newspaper advisor:

  1. Supervise the business, production and advertising affairs of the organization.
  2. Recommend and approve the appointment of all employees other than student editors and student news and editorial staff members.
  3. Recommend and administer budgets.
  4. Perform general duties in connection with promotion of the student newspaper.
  5. Study editorial problems and procedure and make recommendations for improvements both to the editor and to the Student Publications Committee.
  6. Be charged with the responsibility of reducing errors as far as reasonably possible.
  7. Serve as professional resource person for the staff by giving advice and answering questions in matters pertaining to the editorial operation of the newspaper. This includes general assistance in production and improvement of the newspaper and in stimulating interest among the staff, including volunteers.
  8. Advise the Editor, Managing Editor, or other editor or reporter responsible of any perceived instances of illegal speech.
  9. Give advice and answer questions in news editing, news writing, and headline writing.

F. Review

This policy shall be reviewed annually by the Chief Student Affairs Officer and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

ORIGINALLY APPROVED:  12/01/2001

LAST AMENDED:  04/13/2011