University of Vermont ordered to release some disciplinary records

VERMONT – A Vermont state judge has ordered the Universityof Vermont to release some- but not all – of the records requested by a Vermont newspaperconcerning the school’s investigation of a hazing case involvingmembers of the school’s hockey team.

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

The Dec. 15 order followed a lawsuit filed by the BurlingtonFree Press for access to records related to UVM disciplinaryproceedings brought against some members of the school’s hockeyteam. They were accused of participating in hazing incidents that,according to a lawsuit filed by aformer hockey team member, culminated in a party Oct. 1 wherefreshmen 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-classteam members poured and spat beer on them.

UVM has consistently refused to disclose any details of itsinvestigation, citing the federal Family Educational Rights andPrivacy Act (FERPA), commonly known as the Buckley Amendment.LeRoy Rooker, of the U.S. Dept. of Education, filed an affidavitin the case supporting the university’s position.

The Free Press had argued that changes to FERPA enactedby Congress last year no longer allowed UVM to use the law asan excuse.

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

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