Gottfredson builds stonewall higher

7/5/2013: Diane Dietz of the RG had a story last month on the problems with UO’s public records office, here. Now the Student Press Law Center has a report on UO’s efforts to prevent the Oregon Commentator, a student publication, from seeing President’s Gottfredson’s official calendar. Erlichman and Haldeman Hubin and Geller are pulling out all the stops on this one: in addition to the usual fees and delays, they’ve stopped the Commentator from using student fees that ASUO appropriated for the precise purpose of paying the UO administration for public records:

“We officially heard back from General Counsel,” Consuela Perez-Jefferis wrote to Ekblad. “They confirmed that the incidental fee money can’t be used for an outside party’s public records requests because incidental fee money is state money.” 

Perez-Jefferis could not be reached for comment despite multiple attempts. David Hubin, Gottfredson’s senior assistant, said that despite the email sent to Ekblad, the university’s attorneys haven’t made a decision yet as to whether the Commentator can pay for public records out of its budget. Hubin said that issue “is in front of our lawyers and each of the Oregon University system lawyers.”

Ah yes, the lawyers. I wonder whose side they’ll take on this one?

The Daily Emerald has had to set up a non-profit to solicit donations to pay Hubin’s fees, in order to get around this fresh attempt to prevent students from finding out what their university is up to. UO is even claiming that the names of the students that Gottfredson holds official meetings with – people like ASUO President Sam Dotters-Katz, and so on, can be kept secret under FERPA. I don’t think that’s going to stick:

Adam Goldstein, attorney advocate for the Student Press Law Center, said It seems unlikely that most of what was redacted fits into the exemptions cited by the school. He also said that none of this information would be protected under FERPA. … 

Goldstein said there is no reason to redact student names because a president’s calendar isn’t a student education record under FERPA. 

“A president’s calendar is not part of a student’s educational file,” he said. “The subject matter of the meeting might be protected by FERPA, but the fact that the meeting happened isn’t.”

Read the whole story here. Gottfredson has repeatedly claimed he’s in favor of transparency, and repeatedly had the PR office and the General Counsel – both of whom report to him – stonewall in every possible way. Of course, as Paul Krugman noted in the NYT yesterday, this sort of hypocrisy is in some ways a hopeful sign – at least our president still has to pay lip service to the idea of transparency. 

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One Response to Gottfredson builds stonewall higher

  1. Anonymous says:

    I perk up any time an administrators claims FERPA restriction. It usually menas they are wanting to hide something or are otherwise unwilling to cooperate.