University of North Texas: Student Newspaper Critic Seeks to Compel Administrators to Turn Over Unpublished Material

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of North Texas

In July 2020, students at the University of North Texas petitioned administrators to disband a conservative student group. A conservative non-profit organization, displeased with the student newspaper’s “biased” coverage of the controversy, issued a records request under Texas’ Public Information Act. The request asked administrators to require the newspaper to share unpublished materials. On August 11, FIRE and the Student Press Law Center wrote to the Office of the Attorney General of Texas, asking it to uphold the university’s refusal to comply with the request. The OAG’s Public Records Division agreed, ruling on October 21 that the newspaper’s materials were not “public information” because they were not “written, produced, collected, assembled, or maintained by or for the university,” but were instead “produced by private students for the student-run newspaper,” and that the university did not “own or have a right of access to this information.”