State attorney general upholds university’s refusal to release campus crime logs

MISSISSIPPI — The state attorney general’s office said in Januarythat the University of Mississippi does not have to release campus crimereports or logs pertaining to a 1999 fraternity party incident that sentfive female students to the hospital.

The Daily Mississippian,the university’s student newspaper, andThe Clarion-Ledger,a Jackson newspaper, requested the reports fromcampus police shortly after the incident occurred in November. The universitypolice department denied the requests. University chancellor Robert Khayatthen asked the attorney general’s office to issue an opinion on the records’status under state open-records laws.

An opinion letter dated Jan. 7 from the state attorney general’s officesaid “the records in question are exempt from disclosure under the PublicRecords Act.” The Mississippi Public Records Act exempts from disclosurelaw enforcement investigation records associated with an identifiable individual.

“Given this one particular issue about the [fraternity] party, it doesn’tlook like they’re going to give us the information,” said Chris Thompson,editor of The Daily Mississippian.“We’re leaning more toward filinga complaint or seeking some legal counsel.”

The attorney general’s opinion did not address federal laws cited bythe newspapers’ requests that require disclosure of campus crime reports.The Clery Act of 1998 obligates colleges and universities to make campuscrime logs available for public inspection or risk losing their federalfunding.

Thompson said The Daily Mississippianwill decide whether to takelegal action against the university by next week.