OSU agrees to release student parking ticket information
Oklahoma State University followed the University of Oklahoma's lead on Thursday, saying it would release the names of students who receive parking tickets. "In keeping with the Oklahoma Open Records Act, Oklahoma State University has withheld the names of students receiving parking tickets to protect their privacy," OSU spokesman Gary Shutt told the The O'Colly. "However, going forward, the university has decided to make student names available through the open records process."
For more than four years, OSU and OU officials had contended that the parking tickets were student education records kept confidential by the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA.
But OU President David Boren announced Wednesday that he now believes the parking ticket records should be available to the public and the media.
"In my opinion, the records in question are traffic violation records, and are not the kind of sensitive student records, which are covered by the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act," Boren said.
His change of heart came a few hours after The Oklahoma Daily announced it would join a 2013 lawsuit seeking access to the information.
The original plaintiff, Joey Stipek -- an OU student and FOI Oklahoma member -- said Friday he will agree to dismiss the lawsuit and expects that OU will pay his attorney fees.
Stipek sought the records in 2012 to determine if OU athletes got preferential treatment for parking tickets.
On Wednesday, Boren said he has "no reason to believe that there has been any impropriety in the parking ticket program, but I believe that the public has a right to know how it has been implemented."
In September, the FOI Oklahoma Inc. board of directors awarded Stipek a $2,000 grant to support the lawsuit.
Stipek is being represented Nicholas Harrison, an OU alumnus based in Washington D.C., and Kevin Taylor, based in Oklahoma City. Harrison received FOI Oklahoma’s 2012 Ben Blackstock Award because of his reporting for The Oklahoma Daily as a University of Oklahoma law school student.
Harrison is on FOI Oklahoma's list of attorneys willing to represent individuals, members of the media, and organizations seeking documents under the Oklahoma Open Records Act or alleging violations of the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act.
Joey Senat, Ph.D. Associate Professor OSU School of Media and Strategic Communications
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.