Alligator v. University of Florida: Newsstand Fight Now a Lawsuit

With internal negotiations apparently at a standstill, The Independent Florida Alligator has now officially filed suit against the University of Florida in U.S. district court.  The purpose of the suit: attempting to stop the removal of two dozen orange news racks that serve as Alligator distribution points on UF’s campus.

The highly-visible racks have been situated for roughly 30 years at “some of the most heavily-trafficked” spots on the 2,000-acre main campus in Gainesville, Fla.  The university plans to replace them with black modular newsstands of its own– originally mandating an annual licensing charge of $100 per stand but later backing off that fee.  The initial targeting of the 24 racks appears to be the first step in a larger push that will most likely lead to the removal of all independent Alligator stands.

As the Student Press Law Center explains, the Alligator’s suit specifically “seeks both a temporary and preliminary injunction to stop the university from implementing the new distribution policy scheduled to take effect August 15.”

A portion of the lawsuit:

Announcement of the University plan caused Campus Communications [the paper’s publishing company] several serious concerns:

a.    The University would be taking over ownership and control of its primary means of distribution on the University of Florida campus.

b.    UF Rule 2.003 lacked clear and specific guidelines to apply for a license allowing unmanned distribution of printed materials through either University-owned newsracks or private news racks.

c.    UF Rule 2.003 lacked clear and specific guidelines specifying the circumstances under which a license for unmanned distribution of printed materials could be revoked.

d.    Removal of orange Alligator newsracks and use of black modular units would diminish the visibility and accessibility of The Independent Florida Alligator on the University of Florida campus, adversely affected distribution and advertising, and make continued operation of Campus Communications economically impossible.

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