Skip to main content
Title lX mandate

Five years after two students journalists and a graduate of Western Washington University sued the university for withholding sexual assault records involving student perpetrators, a judge has awarded them $111,780 in penalties.…

In an oral judgment on Thursday, May 2, Judge David Freeman ruled that he would penalize Western Washington University $15 per day for 276 days, multiplied by the 27 student names that were withheld — amounting to $111,780.…

Although the Washington case involves students accused of misconduct rather than faculty -- or, dare we say it, coaching staff -- it echoes a now three year old Kentucky case involving the state's flagship university and its student newspaper. Each involves a public university that cynically hid behind federal student education records privacy laws to evade damaging publicity at any "cost."

Days after the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in the Kernel's favor in its six year legal battle with the University of Kentucky for access to records relating to its investigation into claims of sexual harassment and assault leveled against a professor, the Kernel tweeted:

"On the outcome of UK vs. Kernel lawsuit:

"The Kernel won. It cost time. It cost effort. It cost many student journalists the experience of an unencumbered newsroom. But it is no victory to know that our public institutions actively resist the obligations they have to citizens."…

In an editorial, the Kernel reflected on the "cost" to UK:

"Money was not an issue for UK. [T]he university spent $52,368.47 for its own outside counsel for the case, in addition to paying $30,000 of the Kernel’s legal fees.

"UK wanted to protect the brand of being a safe environment for students to live and learn. What good parent wants to send their child to a school with a sexual predator among its faculty? The university knows that a happy student becomes a happy alumnus, ready and willing to keep supporting their alma mater for years after walking across the stage at graduation.

"UK tried to play the long game.

"In reality, UK has only shown it’s willing to put the safety of its students at risk in order to maintain an appealing image.

"But in the end, after six long years of fighting Kernel journalists, advisors and attorneys, UK has reached the same outcome it would have by following the law and turning investigation documents over to the Kernel.

"Thanks for playing, UK. But when we lose sight of the truth, no one wins."…

Students instructing educators -- first in Kentucky and now in Washington. Will Kentucky soon reclaim this loathed "title?"

And, if so, at what cost?