Univ. of Vermont ordered to release some documents in hazing case

A Vermont state judge has ordered the University of Vermont to release some- but not all – of the records requested by a Vermont newspaper concerning the school’s investigation of a hazing case involving members of the school’s hockey team.

Judge Alden Bryan ordered the school to release 12 of 19 documents he reviewed, although he required that the names of individual hockey players be deleted first.

The Dec. 15 order followed a lawsuit filed by the Burlington Free Press for access to records related to UVM disciplinary proceedings brought against some members of the school’s hockey team. They were accused of participating in hazing incidents that, according to a lawsuit filed by a former hockey team member, culminated in a party Oct. 1 where freshmen were forced to parade naked holding one another’s genitals, participate in drinking games, eat foods that caused them to vomit, and lie on the floor in women’s thong underwear while upper-class team members poured and spat beer on them.

UVM has consistently refused to disclose any details of its investigation, citing the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), commonly known as the Buckley Amendment. LeRoy Rooker, of the U.S. Dept. of\nEducation, filed an affidavit in the case supporting the university’s\nposition.

The Free Press had argued that changes to FERPA enacted by Congress last year no longer allowed UVM to use the law as an excuse.

Last week’s ruling was in response to the Free Press’s request for a preliminary injunction. The newspaper intends to pursue the case.

Case: The Burlington Free Press v. The University of Vermont, No. 699-12-99\n(Washington Cty. Ct., Dec. 15, 1999)(ruling on motion for preliminary\ninjunction)