Compromise to keep some Alligator racks on campus

In this file photo, left to right, Alvin Langford, Eddie Lake and Steve Corbitt, of the Grounds Division of the Physical Plant, replace newspaper boxes, including those of the Independent Florida Alligator, with new, larger black newspaper boxes, outside of the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla., Monday, July 16, 2012.

Erica Brough/Staff Photographer
Published: Monday, November 26, 2012 at 5:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 26, 2012 at 5:50 p.m.

The Independent Florida Alligator's lawsuit against the University of Florida is close to being dropped, thanks to a compromise that leaves some of the student newspaper's distinctive orange racks on campus.

UF had planned to remove all the paper's news racks and replace them with black modular units owned by the university. UF's board of trustees heard Monday about changes to a university regulation, which allow some private racks to remain and which also create an appeals process for decisions involving the distribution of printed materials on campus.

If the board of trustees approves the changes next week, the Alligator plans to drop its federal lawsuit against UF, said Thomas Julin, a Miami-based attorney representing the paper. The Alligator had several concerns addressed but remains worried about the loss of its racks, he said.

“Both sides are giving something, which is what makes a compromise,” he said.

The compromise requires the Alligator to remove 24 racks but allows more than 40 to remain, he said. UF General Counsel Jamie Keith said the deal also adds more detail to the regulations about the process by which publications can be distributed on campus.

“It just provides a lot more transparency, which is something we very much wanted to do,” she said.

UF trustees approved regulations on printed materials in 2009, leading to the installation of modular units since that time. University officials had said the switch was for aesthetic reasons and safety concerns about racks being blown away in major storms.

Facing an August deadline to remove the remainder of its racks, the Alligator's nonprofit owner filed a lawsuit against UF in August seeking to overturn the plan on free-speech grounds. The changes to the regulations remove some vagueness that gave the university too much leeway to make decisions based on content, Julin said.

A study by retired UF economics professor David Denslow was inconclusive about whether the switch to racks would hurt distribution of the paper. Julin said it would have been hard to persuade a court otherwise, and the Alligator's staff will continue to monitor the issue.

“There still is concern at the Alligator about what the actual impact will be,” he said.

Contact Nathan Crabbe at 338-3176 or Visit for more stories on the University of Florida.

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