Margaret Hynds, editor in chief of the Notre Dame Observer, noticed last November that HB 1019, a law former Indiana governor Mike Pence signed, classified private university police departments as public agencies.
The Indiana Supreme Court this week decided the police department at the University of Notre Dame is not a government body and not subject to open records requests.
The bill would have superseded a recent Indiana Court of Appeals ruling that said state private universities' police departments are subject to public records law.
The state appellate court ruled that Notre Dame's police force is a public agency subject to the public records law, but a bill heading to the governor's desk would shield private universities from releasing the same amount of records as public institutions.
Some public access advocates are worried that the bill simply echoes the requirements set by the federal Clery Act instead of advancing transparency in private universities' police forces.
ESPN has filed suit against the University of Notre Dame, alleging the private institution violated Indiana’s public records law when it withheld police incident reports about student athletes.