FERPA Fib of the Year, 2014 Edition

It’s fitting that the 365-day stink-bomb that was 2014 ended with the U.S. Department of Education wadding up the last remaining shred of its credibility on FERPA and pulling the flusher with both hands.  It was that kind of year.  Like Pavlov’s dogs at suppertime, school and college legal departments reflexively yapped “FERPA” anytime a… Continue reading FERPA Fib of the Year, 2014 Edition

University of Oregon students criticize university for using FERPA to ‘frivolously’ avoid answering questions about sexual assault allegations involving athletes

The front page of today's Daily Emerald is a powerful one:

The issue is a timely one for the University of Oregon student newspaper — this week, it came to light that three basketball players were accused in March of sexually assaulting a woman at an off-campus party and then later at one of the players' apartments. The university and police learned of the allegations in March, and the Daily Emerald and other media have questioned why the players were allowed to continue playing through the end of the season (their suspensions were announced Monday, the same day the district attorney's office announced it did not plan to charge any of the three players).

So your school is under investigation for a Title IX sexual violence complaint — what do you do now?

Today, the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights released a list of 55 colleges and universities currently being investigated for potential Title IX violations involving sexual violence and harassment. Some of these investigations have been reported on previously, but others are being announced for the first time. The list's release has garnered national attention, and even brought the Department's website down briefly.

If you're a student reporter covering one of these schools and just now learning about the investigation, you probably feel there's a lot to catch up on. Many of these investigations have been going on for months, at a minimum. 

Oklahoma State demonstrates why universities shouldn’t handle sexual assault claims

Pop quiz: should you tell the police if you think someone is responsible for a pattern of sexual assaults?Well, that ain't how they do things down Oklahoma State way.In the past, I've made the point that universities shouldn't be adjudicating sexual assault claims. Both because they're bad at it and because they can't actually take these people off the streets.Now, Oklahoma State has provided an object lesson, by showing how much can go wrong when you let a bunch of amateur investigators pretend to do the jobs of police and courts.Consider what happened at Oklahoma State after five different students reported sexual assaults by the same alleged perpetrator.You would assume that a disciplinary committee at an institution faced with multiple reports of sexual assault by one person might say to themselves, "Gee, the training video we watched didn't really prepare us to do the proper investigation of sexual assault at this scale, so maybe we ought to call police."Surely a bunch of amateurs, with no authority to subpoena, no ability to collect or test forensics--certainly they wouldn't attempt to identify and punish a possible serial attacker, would they?