Chapter 5: Student Media and Publications
5.1 General Provisions
5.1.1 Editorial Freedom and Responsibility
The University of Texas at El Paso (“University”), as the publisher, must ultimately bear the responsibility for the contents of all official student publications. (For information on currently recognized publications, see 5.2.1) This responsibility lies with The University of Texas System (“U.T. System”) Board of Regents, the Chief Administrative Officer of the U. T. System, and the President of the University. To ensure free, responsible expression, the University delegates publishing responsibilities and authority to a democratically selected Student Media and Publications Committee composed of faculty and students (referred to in the Bylaws of Faculty Government as the Student Publications Committee). The Committee, in turn, delegates to student editors and staff members sufficient autonomy for student publications to maintain their integrity of purpose as vehicles for free inquiry and free expression in an academic community.
- "Committee" means the Student Media and Publications Committee;
- "Director" means the Director of Student Media and Publications;
- "Editorial Advisor" means Editorial Advisor/Publications Advisor/Assistant Director of Student Media and Publications;
- "Libel" – pursuant to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Chapter 73, Section 73.001, libel is defined as a defamation expressed in written or other graphic form that tends to blacken the memory of the dead or that tends to injure a living person's reputation and thereby expose the person to public hatred, contempt or ridicule, or financial injury or to impeach any person's honesty, integrity, virtue, or reputation or to publish the natural defects of anyone and thereby expose the person to public hatred, ridicule, or financial injury;
- "Obscene material" means material that is defined as obscene in the Texas Penal Code, Section 43.21 or successor provisions, and is within the constitutional definition of obscenity as set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court and the laws of Texas.
- "Student staff member" means any student working on any student publication as described in 5.2 "Student Publications";
- "Student press" means the student editors and their staff, the Director of Student Media and Publications, the Editorial Advisor to the publications, and the Student Media and Publications Committee;
- "Student publications" means those publications officially recognized by the Student Media and Publications Committee, those currently being the student newspaper, The Prospector, and the bilingual student magazine, Minero Magazine, which are wholly or partially funded from student services fees.
5.2 Student Publications
All publications published primarily for students by students and funded wholly or in part from student services fees must be officially recognized by the Committee.
5.2.1 Currently Recognized Publications
- The student newspaper, The Prospector, publishes news and comments of interest and importance in print and online to the University community, with emphasis upon the news that most directly and immediately concerns students.
- The bilingual student magazine, Minero Magazine, in Spanish and English, publishes news, articles and comments of interest and importance in print and online to the University community, with emphasis upon the news and the concerns of Spanish-speaking students in the border region.
5.2.2 Procedure for Granting Official Recognition
- The petitioner must file, with the chair of the Committee, a prospectus of the new publication; and
- The Committee shall approve, disapprove, or modify the petition.
5.3 Canons of Journalism and Protection of Editorial Expression
5.3.1 Canons of Journalism
Student editors and staff members are expected to be governed by the Committee, approved "Canons of Journalism"; and to avoid libel, the use of obscene material, undocumented allegations, attacks on personal integrity, and the techniques of harassment and innuendo. A copy of the Canons of Journalism for The Prospector and Minero Magazine is available for review at the Student Media and Publications Office.
5.3.2 Code of Ethics
Student editors and staff members are expected to be governed by the Code of Ethics of The Society of Professional Journalists, and the American Society of News Editors. A copy of the Code of Ethics for The Prospector and Minero Magazine is available for review at the Student Media and Publications Office.
5.3.3 Code of Advertising Acceptability
Student editors and staff members are expected to be governed by the Code of Advertising Acceptability for The Prospector and Minero Magazine. A copy of the Code of Advertising Acceptability for The Prospector and Minero Magazine is available for review at the Student Media and Publications Office.
5.3.4 Protection of Editorial Expression
- The student press shall be free of censorship, and its editors, directors, and editorial advisor shall be free to develop their own editorial policies and news coverage, subject to the policies of the Committee.
- Censure or removal of student staff members by the Committee shall be only for proper and stated causes. No student staff editor, section editor, or student advertising account executive may be censured or removed without proper notice, and opportunity to refute the charges. The editor-in-chief may remove any editorial staff for proper and stated causes. Editors-in-chief should seek the guidance of the Editorial Advisor and Director prior to any action taken. Editorial staff removed by the editor-in-chief may appeal the decision in writing to the Committee within ten (10) business days of the decision. Removal means removal from all powers, rights, and privileges of a position.
- All recognized student publications shall explicitly state on the editorial page or other appropriate place that opinions expressed in the publications are not necessarily those of the University or the student body.
5.4 The Student Media and Publications Committee
5.4.1 Composition of the Committee
- The Committee is composed of four (4) faculty members appointed by the Faculty Senate, one (1) faculty member from the journalism faculty in the Department of Communication, two (2) undergraduate students and one (1) graduate student, none of whom may be officers of the Student Government Association, but appointed by the Student Government Association and the following non-voting ex-officio representatives: the Director of Student Media and Publications, the Vice President for Student Affairs or his or her designee, and current Editor-In-Chief of The Prospector.
- The Committee may recommend removal of its members for missing three (3) or more scheduled Committee meetings.
5.4.2 Eligibility of Members
To be eligible for membership on the Committee, a student/faculty member must be in good standing and meet eligibility requirements established by the Student Government Association or Faculty Senate, respectively.
5.4.3 Duties of the Committee
- The Committee is the policy maker for all student publications, such policies being consistent with freedom of the press under the First and Fourteenth Amendments;
- The Committee is responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the provisions of this chapter;
- The Committee is authorized to impose sanctions on all editorial student staff members of Student Media and Publications as set out in 5.8, 5.8.4(c) and 5.8.4(d) below;
- The Committee may pass bylaws to carry out its duties if such bylaws are consistent with the Regents' Rules and Regulations and this Handbook;
- The Committee shall approve the appointment and/or removal of student editor-in-chief to/from Student Media and Publications on at least a yearly basis;
- The Committee shall have a close working relationship with, and seek the counsel and advice of the Student Media and Publications Director and the Editorial Advisor;
- The Committee shall consider grievances involving allegations of libel, obscenity, or violation of these policies and determine whether an informal action or Hearing is merited;
- The Committee shall adjudicate disputes pertaining to student publications;
- The Committee by a majority vote may approve the waiver of the required qualifications for a student staff position when, in the judgment of the Committee, the quality of the student publications would be enhanced by such action; and
- The Committee will consider petitions and recommendations from the Director of Student Media and Publications..
5.5 Responsibilities of the Student Media and Publications Director
- The Student Media and Publications Director (“the Director”) is appointed by the Dean of Students to execute the department’s fiscal and administrative responsibilities in the day-to-day operations of Student Media and Publications, and to provide advice to student editors in the areas of personnel, fiscal, and operational management;
- The Director is responsible for upholding the policies and procedures established by the Committee in the day-to-day operations of Student Media and Publications, and for recommending changes in those policies and procedures to the Committee;
- The Director submits written or oral reports to the Committee on the status of Student Media and Publications at the Committee’s regular meetings;
- The Director approves or disapproves all expenditures of Student Media and Publication funds, and is responsible for all budgets associated with the Department;
- The Director develops recommendations for the consideration of the Committee;
- The Director is entitled to see any material before publication, but does not have the right of prior censorship or advance approval of copy;
- The Director may, upon the recommendation of the Editorial Advisor, delay printing of publication, article, advertisement, photograph, or other contents of a publication if there is thought to be a potential violation of these policies. Should the need for a delay in printing arise, the Director must, within a 24-hour period, bring the matter to the attention of the Chair of the Committee, who must convene the Committee within 48 hours to dispose of the matter;
- The Director may appoint editorial student staff members on an interim basis upon the recommendation of the Editorial Advisor and/or Editor-in-Chief of The Prospector, and shall immediately notify the Committee chair in writing of the action. Notice of vacancies in student staff positions shall be made in The Prospector as soon as vacancies occur;
- The Director may suspend any student staff member and appoint an interim pending a review of the action by the Committee, to be held within ten (10) working days when the paper is being published;
- The Director supervises the activities of the Assistant Director, accountant, and clerical staff;
- The Director coordinates the editorial and work study student staff and full-time staff (Administrative Assistant I, Accounting Specialist I, Assistant Director/Editorial Advisor) selection process;
- The Director appoints and supervises the activities of the advertising staff;
- The Director appoints and supervises the activities of the Editorial Advisor; and
- The Director continually works to further the development of leadership skills and management techniques among the staff of Student Media and Publications.
5.6 The Editorial Adivsor
- The Editorial Advisor is appointed by the Student Media and Publications Director to provide professional guidance, training, and support to the student editors and student staff of student publications.
- The Editorial Advisor will advise and assist the student editors of Student Media and Publications in the establishment of deadlines and the supervision of student staff members.
- The Editorial Advisor will, in the interest of maintaining the highest standards of journalism, receive and review all copy submitted on a timely basis for publications, and then provide the editor with such suggestions as are deemed appropriate.
- The Editorial Advisor will bring potential violations of publications policies to the attention of the Director of Student Media and Publications and, if appropriate, to the Chair of the Committee for action as prescribed in 5.5. (g) above.
5.7 Student Staff Members
5.7.1 Responsibilities of Editors
- The editors-in-chief of the student publications have final authority over what is published in their respective publications, as long as the provisions of this chapter are followed. However, the editorial freedom of student editors involves the obligation to be governed by the "Canons of Journalism" and “Code of Ethics.” These canons detail the responsibility to avoid libel, the use of obscene material, undocumented allegations, attacks on personal integrity, and techniques of harassment and innuendo. The editors-in-chief must acknowledge acceptance of these responsibilities by signing an agreement with the Committee.
- The editors-in-chief is are expected to work in conjunction with the Director of Student Media and Publications and the Editorial Advisor so that they may be able to fulfill their respective obligations as set forth in 5.5 and 5.6 above.
- The editors-in-chief are expected to ensure that copy be available for review by the Editorial Advisor on a timely basis prior to production.
- The editors-in-chief are selected by the Committee to serve for one academic year unless otherwise stipulated at the time of selection. Subordinate editors and student staff shall perform the duties assigned them by the editor(s)-in-chief and section editors as approved by the Committee.
5.7.2 Duties of Student Staff Members
- Student Advertising Account Executives of Student Media and Publications, as a condition of employment, accept the responsibility for procuring a set amount of advertising per year, as determined by the Director of Student Media and Publications.
- Full job descriptions and required qualifications for student staff members are recorded in the "Student Media and Publications Handbook."
5.8 Adjudication of Disputes
5.8.1 Jurisdiction of the Committee
The Committee has jurisdiction in cases involving allegations of violations of the provisions of this chapter, including instances in which a violation of journalistic ethics or proper accountability is charged. The Committee’s authority extends to all student staff members of Student Media and Publications.
5.8.2 Complaints or Appeals of Personnel Decisions by Editor-in-Chief
A member of the University community who has knowledge of a violation of this chapter may submit a complaint to the Student Media and Publications Director in writing. If the Director does not settle the dispute to the satisfaction of the complainant, they may submit a complaint to the Chair of the Committee, in writing. In such cases, the Chair of the Committee shall act within ten (10) business days from receipt of the complaint. The Director may also initiate a complaint directly to the Chair in writing when dereliction of duty or incapacity of anyone on the student staff occurs. The Director may take interim action as specified in 5.5(i) above.
A student staff member may appeal the decision assessed by the editor-in-chief in accordance with section 5.8. A student may appeal on any of the following grounds:
- The sanctions imposed are inappropriate and/or not commensurate with the circumstances;
- A procedural irregularity affected the outcome of the matter;
- There is new evidence that was not reasonably available at the time of the determination regarding responsibility that could affect the outcome of the matter; or
- The Editor-in-Chief had a conflict of interest or bias for or against a party (generally, or specifically in this matter) that affected the outcome of the matter.
5.8.3 Informal Action
Upon receiving a complaint, the Chair of the Committee, at his/her discretion, may attempt an informal settlement in consultation with the complainant, the accused, and the Student Media and Publications Director. If settlement does not occur within thirty (30) calendar days, or upon request of either party to the dispute, the Committee shall schedule a hearing.
5.8.4 The Hearing
- No member of the Committee who is a party to the dispute or who has a conflict of interest in a specific case shall sit as a member of the hearing committee. Up to three (3) working days prior to the hearing, either party, in writing, may challenge the impartiality of the person(s) designated to hear the charges, but he/she is not entitled to disqualify the person(s) from serving. The challenge must be in writing, shall include a statement of the allegations upon which the challenge is based, and shall be submitted to the Committee through the Student Media and Publications Director. It shall be up to the Committee to determine whether the challenged member can serve with fairness and objectivity or should be disqualified. The Chair of the Committee shall conduct the hearing.
- All decisions as to who shall be admitted to the hearing reside with the Chair of the Committee.
- The hearing shall be conducted in such a manner as to inform the Committee of all facts necessary for rendering a fair decision. Sanctions that may be imposed by the Committee include only the following:
- admonition or warning;
- suspension from a position with Student Media and Publications;
- direct publication of corrections, retractions, refutations, or apologies;
- removal or reassignment from a position with Student Media and Publications;
- recommendation of further disciplinary action; or
- appropriate combinations of the sanctions listed above.
- All student staff members, including editors and student account executives, may be sanctioned for:
- deception of the board;
- misuse of funds;
- obvious incompetence or failure to perform assigned duties;
- failure to comply with written Student Media and Publications Committee policies, Regents' Rules and Regulations, or the provisions of this chapter; or
- other breaches of journalistic responsibilities as they appear in the "Canons of Journalism," the “Code of Ethics," and the "Code of Advertising Acceptability” documents.
- Decisions of the Committee are effective immediately and are final unless successfully appealed in accordance with 5.8.5 below.
- In any such hearing:
- the Chair will notify the accused of the charges;
- if the Chair of the Committee is a party to the dispute or has a conflict of interest or is otherwise disqualified, the Committee, subsequent to all challenges, shall elect a temporary chair;
- both parties to the dispute shall be permitted advisors of choice. The advisor may be an attorney. An advisor may confer with and advise, but shall not be permitted to question witnesses, introduce evidence, make objections, or present arguments;
- the complainant has the burden of going forward with the evidence;
- the complainant has the burden of proving the charges by the greater weight of the credible evidence; legal rules of evidence do not apply;
- both parties shall be allowed witnesses;
- a recording of the hearing shall be maintained and made available to both parties under reasonable conditions;
- members of the Committee may interrupt proceedings to ask questions of any participants, subject to reasonable regulation by the Chair;
- the accused shall not be required to give testimony against himself or herself;
- the complaining party shall make the initial opening statement and the final summation statement;
5.8.5 Procedure for Appeals
- Either party to the dispute may appeal the assessed sanction and/or decision of the Committee no later than ten (10) business days after the Committee’s determination is issued to the parties. The appeal must be made to the President of the University in writing, which may include email. The President shall issue a written decision within thirty (30) business days of receipt of the appeal.
- The decision of the President is final.