Otterbein University student journalists were honored – and Columbus City Schools were, well, cited – during the annual awards ceremony of the Central Ohio chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
The Otterbein students received the chapter’s First Amendment Award for their years-long fight to obtain records from the campus police department of the Westerville school, which argues it is exempt from Sunshine laws since it is a private institution.
One of the students recently filed suit against university officials in the Ohio Supreme Court, arguing that since the state–certified officers exercise police powers granted by government, their arrest and incident reports are public records.
Otterbein’s journalists also received the Region 4 SPJ (Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania) Mark of Excellence First Amendment Award in a separate collegiate competition. They now advance as a finalist for the national SPJ collegiate award.