Editor’s Letter: We’d sue FAU for you

If it takes pursuing legal action to get the documents we need to report for your safety, we’ll do it.

Kendall Little and Savannah Peifer

We almost had to sue FAU to get public records. And we’d do it again.

On Aug. 22, the UP requested the disciplinary records of FAU students who violated the university’s sexual assault policy between 2018 and 2022. Those documents would have included the alleged offender’s name, nature of offense, date of offense, and the result of the disciplinary proceedings. Less than an hour after we put in the request, we received an email stating the university denied us the records.

The reason we wanted them? To report them for your safety.

University officials said they couldn’t send us the documents because doing so would violate the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This act protects the confidentiality of students’ educational records. However, there’s a certain exception allowing universities to disclose the results of a sexual assault case once it’s complete.

Even when FAU cannot provide us specific information, they are supposed to send records with confidential information redacted.

This isn’t the first time FAU cited FERPA to avoid providing records — and it certainly won’t be the last.

On Oct. 11, we had an attorney send a certified letter to FAU, explaining if we did not receive the public records we requested, we’d be taking legal action.

The next day, our attorney got a response from the university: we’d receive the records later in the week. On Oct. 14, the UP received the names, offenses, and any sanction imposed by the university against the offender.

We’re disappointed it took threatening legal action to receive public records, but we’d do it again in a heartbeat if that’s what it takes.

Kendall Little is the editor-in-chief at the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email her at [email protected] or tweet her @klittlewrites.

Savannah Peifer is the social media manager for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or DM her on Instagram @ginger.savvy