Last September, after a long series of meetings and after input from the faculty, students, and the press, President Lariviere instituted a simple $200 fee waiver system for public records requests. It worked pretty well. Maybe too well. Yesterday, with no warning or discussion with the Senate Transparency Committee, Interim President Berdahl imposed some significant restrictions on fee-waivers. (Actually, he made Dave Hubin do it – there’s courage for you.) I wonder what Berdahl is afraid to see disclosed? Email and new policy here.
In 2007, Penn State University President Graham Spanier testified before the Pennsylvania legislature, years after the e-mails flew between top school officials about sexual abuse allegations involving Sandusky.
Spanier pleaded in 2007 with state lawmakers to exempt schools from open records laws. “Subjecting Penn State to Right to Know does far more than feed the prurient interests of newspaper editors who are looking for a headline about how much Coach [Joe] Paterno makes,” testified Spanier, one of the school leaders most sharply rebuked in the Freeh report.
Spanier warned lawmakers at the time that if his school had to disclose its files to the public it could lose “lucrative partnerships” with vendors like Nike and Pepsi, which require non-disclosure. Spanier said revenue from intellectual property would fall because bidders would know too much. He said donors to the school want to remain anonymous and that the disclosures would lead to an erosion of privacy rights for people who work at the school or are mentioned in the files.
To add a little irony, Spanier later had to sue Penn State to get access to his own email. Presumably so he could see exactly how much incriminating evidence Freeh was going to get on him.