Southwestern Community College District: Title IX Office FOIAs Student Newspaper for Unpublished Material


Southwestern College

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed
In a man-bites-dog turn of events, Southwestern Community College issued a public records request to its student newspaper, The Sun, demanding that the student journalists turn over unpublished video of a student government meeting. The college continued to insist that the newspaper was required to turn over the video even after a faculty advisor objected. On June 27, 2019, FIRE wrote to the district’s administration to explain that student newspapers are not government entities subject to California’s Public Records Act, and that student journalists have a First Amendment privilege to refuse to disclose unpublished information. On June 30, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the college's administration had withdrawn the request on June 19, and issued an apology to the newspaper's staff on June 27.