Editors at college newspapers across the country said last night they are pleased with a Georgia court ruling allowing college newspapers access to student organizations' judicial records. Editors at both private and public schools said their school administrations frequently cite the Family Educational Records Privacy Act of 1974 to deny them access to files concerning disciplinary action taken against organizations. "We were waiting for this decision," Rutgers University The Daily Targum Editor-in-Chief Rebecca Quick said last night. "We are looking into the case." The Red and the Black, the independent student newspaper of the University of Georgia, won a partial victory last month in its lawsuit aimed at gaining access to the school's Organization Court -- the body which investigates student groups, specifically fraternities and sororities. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Frank Hull ruled the FERPA, which the University says is the backbone of its general records policy, does not apply to disciplinary records, Red and Black Editor-in-Chief Lance Helms said last month. Hull ruled that FERPA, which is commonly referred to as the Buckley Amendment, only applies to academic performance records, Helms said. Under the ruling Red and Black reporters will have access to all judicial records concerning organizations in both past and future cases, but are not allowed to attend the meetings. Helms added the paper will appeal the decision to the state supreme court to gain access to meetings. "It is implicit in the term educational institution that a university will educate its students about what constitutes appropriate and acceptable behavior," the College junior said last night. "Only through opening judicial records will this crucial aspect of education be successfully fulfilled." Currently, the University's judicial records are confidential and can not be viewed by reporters or anyone else not directly involved in the case. Indiana Daily Student Managing Editor Bruce Gray said his paper does not have access to judicial proceedings concerning organizations. He noted that Indiana University claims the records are condsidered an interdepartmental investigation which is protected by state law. "But there is an arrangement [under which] they will tell us what's going on," Gray said last night. "And they have been pretty good." Gray added that his independent newspaper, however, may use this case to demand more information through the Freedom of Information Act. Daniel Restrepo, editor-in-chief of The Cavalier Daily, the University of Virginia's independent newspaper, said his paper has "had trouble in the past" gaining access to the records. But UVA students will vote today on a school-wide referendum to open all of the judicial records that are "nonpersonally identifiable," Restrepo said. Restrepo said the referendum may open up judicial files at UVA, but noted that Cavalier Daily will still look into the Georgia decision and see how it applies to their state school. (CUT LINE) Please see EDITORS, page 5 EDITORS, from page 1Comments powered by Disqus
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