Access in brief

University to pay largest-ever fine for faulty crime reporting

MICHIGAN -- Eastern Michigan University in June was ordered to pay $350,000 in fines for 13 violations of the Clery Act, the largest fine ever imposed for violating the law governing disclosure of campus crime data.The fine is $7,500 less than the original amount issued by the U.S. Department of Education.

Among the violations, the department found EMU inaccurately reported the circumstances surrounding the death of student Laura Dickinson in 2006. EMU police ''immediately determined the death to be suspicious in nature,'' the Education Department said. But a day after Dickinson's body was found, a university statement said there was ''no reason to suspect foul play.''

The Clery Act is a federal law that requires any university taking federal money to disclose information about crime on campus, including ''timely warnings'' about serious ongoing threats.

The university also settled a civil lawsuit with the Dickinson family for $2.5 million.

In a press release, the university said, ''We're pleased to have arrived at an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education and we appreciate their recognition of the progress and improvements EMU has made during the past year in regards to Clery Act compliance.''

In a Dec. 14 letter to the university, the education department called EMU's actions an ''egregious violation, which endangered the entire EMU campus community.''

The controversy over EMU's handling of the Dickinson murder led to the dismissal of former university President John Fallon and two other university officials. Fallon has filed a lawsuit against the university, claiming his rights were violated under the Michigan Whistleblowers Protection Act when he was fired.

Editor alleges student senate at U of Oregon broke sunshine law

OREGON -- A University of Oregon student senate committee disregarded the state's open meetings law, according to student government president Sam Dotters-Katz.

A May 13 meeting of the Associated Students of the University of Oregon Senate Over-Realized Committee evaluated student groups' requests for access to the university's over-realized fund. The fund built up $750,000 that would be doled out for the 2008-09 year.

The meeting, then-Oregon Daily Emerald Editor in Chief Laura Powers said, was in violation of Oregon's public reports and meetings law because the public was not given 24 hours advance notice as is required by Oregon Revised Statue 192.640.

At the meeting, Powers raised an objection, but Dotters-Katz said the meeting continued because members felt no action could be taken against them so close to the end of their Senate terms.

In an e-mail to the ASUO Senate, Patrick Boye, then-chairman of the Over-Realized Committee, wrote that he did comply with public meeting laws when he contacted Emerald reporter Robert D'Andrea about the meeting.

Powers filed three grievances with the ASUO Constitution Court in relation to the May 13 meeting. The court, in a June 8 decision, dismissed Powers' claims and stated Powers did not make ''a factual showing that it was a meeting that would fall under Public Meetings Law requirements.''

Powers graduated in May and is no longer able to file complaints with the Constitution Court. She said she hopes the Emerald will refile a complaint with the court.

Fall 2008, reports