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After college spikes story on professor's arrest, student editor publishes it himself

(09/26/12 1:34pm)

When the editor of Bryan College’s newspaper learned there was more to a professor’s resignation than had first appeared, he looked into the incident and started reporting. Using public records, Alex Green discovered that assistant professor David Morgan’s resignation was preceded by a June arrest in which he was charged with attempted aggravated child molestation, attempted child molestation and sexual exploitation of a child. Green planned a story on the arrests, but before it could run in last Friday’s issue of The Bryan College Triangle, college administrators at the private Dayton, Tenn., college told him he couldn’t run the story.


SPJ approves resolution supporting legal efforts to end FERPA

(09/28/12 2:18pm)

The Society of Professional Journalists is formally supporting legal efforts to bring an end to FERPA, the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act, following a resolution passed last week. The resolution, which passed unanimously at the group’s annual convention, encourages the news media legal community to find a strong case to challenge the constitutionality of FERPA under the Supreme Court’s “Obamacare” ruling. The 1974 law requires schools to keep “educational records” private or risk losing federal funding, something that has never happened in the 38 years the law has been in place.


How college newspapers covered the annual Clery campus safety report

(10/03/12 6:37pm)

Most college students understand the level of safety on their campus, but sometimes they can get a little too comfortable. A much needed reminder of campus safety comes this week, as this past Monday was the deadline for colleges to release their annual crime report, as required by the Jeanne Clery Act. All colleges that except federal money, which includes almost all public and private colleges that accept federal financial aid, are required to release this report that chronicles the last three years’ worth of serious crime by category. The act is named after a Lehigh University student who was raped and murdered in her dorm room.



Memphis administrators respond to "Break FERPA" campaign

(10/18/12 10:51am)

When we launched our Break FERPA campaign, we wanted to see how universities would respond when students asked for their own records in the same over-broad way schools use when withholding public records. Would schools maintain their previously held position, and turn over all the emails, notes, memos, video, audio, parking tickets or phone records where a student is personally identifiable, even if not mentioned by name?


TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Don't just get mad about colleges' response to mental-health issues -- get informed

(10/23/12 6:02pm)

A former Amherst College student's nightmarish story of the aftermath of her rape in a campus dorm -- a story so profoundly unsettling that readers are being cautioned to steel themselves before viewing it -- is igniting a wave of indignation over the callous treatment of crime victims when they are most in need of support. "Callous" is wholly inadequate to describe author Angie Epifano's ordeal with a system that appears, based on her experience, calculated to create a liability-reducing paper trail instead of to offer sensitive and individually appropriate care to those traumatized by campus violence. Angie's story, published Oct.







TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: Social media policies have college athletic departments a-Twitter

(12/11/12 10:23pm)

College football and basketball players are often the most recognizable celebrities in their college towns (and for an elite few, well beyond). Their faces adorn media guides, and their likenesses and stats are featured in top-selling video games. But is there ever a time when athletes go "off duty" and regain the full privileges of adulthood?


TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: The early bird gets the worm, but the persistent requester gets the records

(12/18/12 11:45am)

At a journalism workshop in San Francisco a few years back, a reporter for a small alternative newspaper shared her frustration with getting a local police agency to reply to what seemed like a reasonable request: How many complaints of police brutality do you receive, and what are their outcomes? The response?




TRANSPARENCY TUESDAY: This just in... lawyers have to obey the law

(01/08/13 10:09pm)

Like it or not, attorneys who work on contract for government agencies -- and, it turns out, even those whose payment flows through government agencies' insurance companies -- must let the public know what they're charging for. That's the bottom line of a new ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court that comes just a few months after courts in California and Ohio reached the same conclusion.



To fix FERPA, raise the price of lying

(01/20/13 1:14pm)

Put yourself in the place of a school or college attorney. Your client, the institution, is trying to decide whether to fulfill or reject a journalist's request for public records. Honoring the request is going to be a nuisance, and the records contain some embarrassing information the school would rather not see on the evening news. The records pretty clearly don't contain any confidential student information -- but the journalist can't easily prove that.