We understand not many people pick up the newest issue of the Missourian as soon as it comes out on Thursday. Most people pick it up if there is some big news, or they heard about something controversial in it. However, there is one section that will gets looked at every single week: the blotter.
Most parents like to read the Missourian so they can see if their kid got in any legal trouble without telling them about it. Students like to look in the blotters to see if anyone they knew had been in it. There comes one problem with this though.
The University Police are hiding behind this joke of an excuse from an act called FERPA. FERPA is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records, this stands for “Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act”. These records include grades, classes, the progress the student has made and who is allowed to see this information. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education, according the U.S. Department of Education.
When asked why we cannot receive the names of students charged with “violations” on campus, we get the same answer. That they cannot share the name of the student because the student is protected under FERPA.
This is a lie. In 1994, FERPA changed the act to say that it protected educational records, but an educational record does not include “records maintained by a law enforcement unit of the educational agency or institution that were created by that law enforcement unit…” found in Title 20 USC Section 1232 Subsection (a) (4) (B) (II)shows our right to receive these names.
This basically says that if students get caught for something illegal, their record is public. The state of Missouri has no law against this, either. All criminal records in Missouri are open to the public.
So why are the University Police hiding this from us? Do we not need to know what is happening on campus? Is that something we should really hide from the public?
One argument is the fact that since it happened on campus, this means it should be classified as FERPA rights, but this still does not constitute it as a FERPA act. FERPA focuses on education. No matter where it happens, an “alcohol violation” is not an educational right. Therefore there is no reason for offenses like these to be protected by FERPA.
We should be allowed access to the names of these students. If a student commits one crime after another, should we not have the right to see who it was and why they got caught another time?
One thing that comes to mind is if they are hiding the names of students who might be important to the university later on in their college life. Are they hiding it because releasing the name has the possibility of coming back to haunt the university? If we see a name pop up in the paper for being arrested on campus, then a couple years later that freshman is the star quarterback for the football team, the university is at risk of looking bad.
We seriously do not understand why these records are kept from us when we should rightfully be able to get our hands on them. There is no reason the names of these students should not run in the paper. There is no reason we shouldn’t be able to access these records at any time we please.
The state of Missouri says we are allowed to, and the false excuse of FERPA is a proven lie.
It is time to come out and give us a real reason why we have not been getting the names. Make a real excuse or start releasing the names, because this whole “protected under FERPA” thing is a lie and an excuse we are tired of hearing.