The Charlotte Observer, WRAL, the Durham Herald-Sun and The Daily Tar Heel, the university’s student newspaper, are suing UNC-Chapel Hill for public records concerning how the university has handled sexual assault cases.
The suit stems from UNC-Chapel Hill’s decision to decline a public information request filed by The Daily Tar Heel on September 30th asking for records “in connection with a person having been found responsible for rape, sexual assault or any related or lesser” offense by the school’s Honor Court, the Committee on Student Conduct or the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office.
In declining the request, the university claimed the data is “educational records” and protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
“Releasing names of those found responsible in sexual assault or misconduct cases will inevitably lead to disclosures about the identity of victims who put their trust in the university’s process,” school spokesman Joel Curran said in a statement.
Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C., told the Charlotte Observer, that other universities, including the University of Florida, University of Central Florida and Bowling Green State University, have provided the records without being sanctioned by the federal government.
UNC-Chapel Hill has come under fire this year for their handling of sexual assault cases, with victims criticizing the university for not taking sexual assault cases with the utmost seriousness.