The student newspaper at University of Georgia , Red & Black, has an item written by Mimi Ensley that caught my eye. It deals with an open records request on sexual harassment investigations filed by a woman who was dutifully sent all of the records. But they were not redacted at all. And according to the Public Affairs Office at the university, that shouldn’t happen.
Rebecca Macon, the University’s registrar, who is listed as the point of contact for FERPA questions at the University, said the releasing of names would usually not be protected under FERPA, as a name constitutes “directory information.” She said the name would only be protected if the student placed a restriction on his or her record.
However, Jackson said the students’ names should have been redacted throughout the documents in question. “We would redact student names from any document,” Jackson said. “And do so routinely.”
But the question remains. The documents were released. The names were revealed.
Read more on Red & Black.
The paper raises the question of whether these records are protected under FERPA, the federal law protecting the privacy of student education records. But is this an education record as defined under the statute? I’m not sure how FERPA views these records, but names of victims are usually protected and in my opinion, names of the accused should also be protected until such time as any investigation or charges are resolved. There’s just too much risk of privacy/reputational harm not to redact.
So what happened here?