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Miriam College Foundation, Inc.

v CA 348 SCRA 265 December 15, 2000

Posted by Evelyn

Facts: The members of the editorial board of the Miriam College Foundations school paper were subjected to disciplinary sanction by the College Discipline Committee after letters of complaint were filed before the Board following the publication of the school paper that contains obscene, vulgar, and sexually explicit contents. Prior to the disciplinary sanction to the defendants they were required to submit a written statement to answer the complaints against them to the Discipline Committee but the defendants, instead of doing so wrote to the Committee to transfer the case to the DECS which they alleged to have the jurisdiction over the issue. Pushing through with the investigation ex parte the Committee found the defendants guilty and imposed upon them disciplinary sanctions. Defendants filed before the court for prohibition with preliminary injunction on said decision of the Committee questioning the jurisdiction of said Discipline Board over the defendants.

Issue: WON the Discipline Board of Miriam College has jurisdiction over the defendants. Held: The court resolved the issue before it by looking through the power of DECS and the Disciplinary Committee in imposing sanctions upon the defendants. Section 5 (2), Article XIV of the Constitution guarantees all institutions of higher learning academic freedom. This institutional academic freedom includes the right of the school or college to decide for itself, its aims and objectives, and how best to attain them free from outside coercion or interference save possibly when the overriding public welfare calls for some restraint. Such duty gives the institution the right to discipline its students and inculcate upon them good values, ideals and attitude. The right of students to free speech in school is not always absolute. The court upheld the right of students for the freedom of expression but it does not rule out disciplinary actions of the school on the conduct of their students. Further, Sec. 7 of the of the Campus Journalism Act provides that the school cannot suspend or expel a student solely on the basis of the articles they write EXCEPT when such article materially disrupts class work of involve substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others. Therefore the court ruled that the power of the school to investigate is an adjunct of its power to suspend or expel. It is a necessary corollary to the enforcement of rules and regulations and the maintenance of a safe and orderly educational environment conducive to learning. That power, like the power to suspend or expel, is an inherent part of the academic freedom of institutions of higher learning guaranteed by the Constitution. The court held that Miriam College has the authority to hear and decide the cases filed against respondent students.1wph