Joint Statement of parties in Coppola v. Larson
A settlement has been reached in the case of Coppola v. Larson, 3:06cv2138 (NJ) that satisfies the concerns raised by both parties. The terms of the settlement ensure that the Viking News will flourish as a positive learning experience and reaffirm the First Amendment rights of student journalists at Ocean County College. A mutually agreed upon Student Media Advisory Board will work to guarantee that the Viking News and all student media at OCC continue to move forward independently while fully utilizing current media technology.
The parties have mutually agreed upon the following First Amendment Statement which Ocean County College has adopted and will be guided by from here forthwith:
The Ocean County College President and Board of Trustees vigorously support the rights and freedoms granted to each member of the college community by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Ocean County College supports the free speech rights of students and employees and a student press free from prior review, prior restraint, or censorship as well as recognizes all student media as limited public forums. Ocean County College encourages its student journalists to be independent thinkers, and it encourages all members of the college community to express their views. Therefore, the exercise of these rights or freedoms cannot be the subject directly or indirectly of any sanction or dismissal from Ocean County College.
The other major points of the settlement between the parties include:
· Ocean County College will create a new elective student media internship which will provide College credit for work on the Viking News, or one of the other Ocean County College media outlets. Students will have the opportunity to select any faculty member for their internship except the advisor for the particular media outlet. The faculty member shall work closely with the Student media advisor, who shall direct the intern’s work within the student medium, to assess whether the requirements of the internship are being satisfied by the student. Students shall receive a pass/fail grade for participating in the student media internship program.
· Plaintiffs agree that Ocean County College will provide the Viking News’ computers with the same electronic security as those used to protect grades and college financial records and will not abridge the First Amendment rights of the students .
· The Viking News will, whenever feasible, use Windows-platform computers that can be integrated with the Ocean County College network. At the present time, certain Macintosh production programs produce superior publications and are used widely in the commercial world for print production. The Viking News will continue to use Macintosh computers to run these programs and any other programs that are superior to their Windows’ counterpart, or that do not have a Windows’ counterpart;
· The membership of the Student Media Advisory Board shall be standing and consist of the following individuals:
a. Editor-in-Chief of the Viking News
b. Editor-in-Chief of Barda
c. Editor-in-Chief of Seascape
d. Station Manager of WOCC
e. Advisor to the Viking News
f. Advisor to Barda
g. Advisor to Seascape
h. Advisor to WOCC
i. Director of Student Media or its equivalent
j. 2 Representatives of the student body (elected annually by the student body in the Spring Student Senate elections.
k. Representative of the faculty (elected annually by the college faculty in Spring College Senate elections.
l. Representative of the local media (selected annually by the Student Media Advisory Board)
m. The advisors and editors-in-chief or otherwise-named student leaders of other officially established student media
And the following two non-voting individuals:
n. Board of Trustees – Student Representative
o. Alumni Representative
· The Student Media Advisory Board’s sole functions are to approve budgets, select editors in chief and radio station managers and act as a resource to the student media on issues which have legal implications and on media convergence. Ocean County College will also represent and warrant that the Student Media Advisory Board does not exercise any editorial or content control over the Viking News or other student media.;
· Ocean County College represents that the Viking News will be treated in the same manner as other student media at the College;
· Karen Bosley has been reinstated as student media advisor for the Viking News;
· Any changes to the Web host of the on-line edition of the Viking News must be jointly approved by the Student Media Advisory Board and the Editor-in-Chief of the Viking News.