Student government threatens lawsuit over access to professor evaluations

WISCONSIN — Members of the University of Wisconsinat Madison’s student government are considering suing for accessto professor evaluations if the university’s departments failto provide the records within the next week.

The Associated Students of Madison regularly publishes a compilationof professor evaluations for students, but it can only publishthe evaluations that each department provides. The universitydoes not compile or publish the information, and each departmentis responsible for making the evaluations public. Many departments,however, have not made the evaluations available to ASM, althoughASM believes the state’s open-records act requires the evaluationsto be publicly available.

"As of now, we’ve only received about 60 percent of theevaluations we’ve requested," said student Mike Dean, chairof ASM’s Student Council.

ASM has regularly requested the evaluations from the universitysince 1996 and usually receives less than half of them, accordingto Dean. The student government filed a request last October andhas sent three other requests for the information since then tothe university.

"If we don’t get a substantial number [of the evaluations]by next week, I really want to start pushing for a lawsuit,"Dean said. ASM is currently searching for an attorney who willwork on a pro bono basis.

The UW Chancellor’s Office did not return numerous phone callsmade by reporters for the Student Press Law Center.