“The worst in collegiate journalism since 1982!” The Koala, a student publication at the University of California, San Diego, boasts on its home page.
But a student publication is a student publication, whether it traffics in satire or offensive material (as many at UCSD believe The Koala does) or, more traditionally, in nonfake news. And if a public university allows student publications to compete with other student groups for funds, barring the publication in retaliation for content it published violates its free press and free speech rights, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned a lower court’s 2017 ruling dismissing The Koala‘s lawsuit against UCSD. The appeals court found that the student publication had offered sufficient evidence to suggest the university (and its student government) had changed their policies for funding student groups to single out and retaliate against The Koala.