Student wants university to unlock e-mail records

COLORADO — Officials at the University of Colorado at Boulder claimthe school has turned over all the records requested by student ShannonMeadors, but Meadors tells a different story.

She claims the university has been in violation of state open-recordslaws since April, when she first requested e-mail records from 16 individuals,including state employees and student government officials. In July, therewere four people from whom Meadors said she had not received records sherequested on behalf of her student political group.

Meadors said the university did not respond to her request within thetime limits set forth in Colorado state law, which she consulted throughoutthe process of attempting to obtain the records.

At the end of a three-day period after the request was made, the schoolshould have provided Meadors with written notice about the status of herrequest, she said. She said she received no such notice, but after a mandatory10-day response period, Meadors was told that the records were unavailable.

“I think they tried to throw us off in the beginning, hoping we wouldgo away,” Meadors said. “It’s been a trying experience.”

Meadors also said officials threatened to impose excessive fees, suchas a charge of $1.25 just to view copies of each record.

The university contends it was protecting the privacy of the studentsfrom whom Meadors had requested e-mail records by determining whether thosestudents were considered state employees who would thus be subject to thestate’s open-records law.

“It was the question of whether we would treat university student e-mailsthe same as we would treat university employees, which is clearly a matterof public record,” said Bobbi Barrow, executive director of institutionalrelations. “It was a matter of the legal review needing to be done.”

Barrow said that review found that the school did indeed have to producethe students’ e-mails, and subsequently, all of those documents were produced.

“As far as I know, we provided everything that Shannon asked for,” Barrowsaid. “The decision was made that student e-mails were equal in terms ofour requirement to produce them as employee e-mail.”

However, Meadors said that not only are there records she has not received,but that some of the four remaining individuals claim to know nothing abouther request.

“It’s interesting that the university is saying that they’ve given usall the records we’ve requested when we’ve got one person we requestedrecords from saying that he never received any notification that he wassupposed to give us those,” Meadors said.

Meadors first became interested in looking at the records after Gravy,her student political group, requested an investigation into problems withthe electronic voting system used in the school’s student government elections.

She said the school issued a statement acknowledging there were problemswith the system, but not with the recent election. Meadors and her groupwanted to see the reports used to prepare that statement and e-mails detailingcommunication between executives on the issue.

Although Meadors said she will still attempt to round up the remainingrecords, she does not expect to find anything of value in them.

“At this point, any of the e-mail records for those people that hadany amount of significance whatsoever are going to be gone,” Meadors said.