WIUM Tristates Public Radio

University Might Sue Its Student Newspaper

Aug 30, 2016

BuzzFeed News reports that to keep the contents of a faculty sexual assault investigation secret, the University of Kentucky intends to sue its own student newspaper.

The paper received investigation documents from a source and has run ten stories on the case. One of those stories said the faculty member in question (who has resigned from his job at the school) was also investigated after being accused of fabricating research.

The university president said the school is faced with the decision of whether transparency is more important than the need to protect the privacy and dignity of individual members of the university community.

Shop Talk panelist Will Buss, who is the faculty advisor for the Western Courier at Western Illinois University, considers the university's lawsuit outrageous. He said the student journalists simply reported the facts -- which is what the institution taught them to do. Buss said students should be allowed to report on any potential malfeasance at the university.

Panelist Rich Egger said university administrators often claim to be there for the students, but in this case it appears their main concern is to protect the institution's reputation. Egger said the public has the right to know about the case because the alleged perpetrator could pose a threat to the community or to another campus if he’s hired elsewhere.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton, who is News Director of NEWS3 – wiutv at Western Illinois University, also said the public has a right to know who is being investigated, but the names of the alleged victims should remain confidential. She said the student newspaper did the right thing by not reporting the victims' names even though it had the information.