University of Cincinnati received diverse results in audit
By: Alex Meyer
News Editor for The Post
Auditors requested five records from the University of Cincinnati on Jan. 29 as part of the Ohio Universities Public Records Audit.
Of the five requests, three were met with compliance by university officials. Two requests were obstructed or denied.
College students from seven universities audited 12 public universities in Ohio through the audit.
The audit’s goal was to test public university compliance with Ohio Sunshine Laws, which require public universities to provide a variety of records to the public in a timely manner.
Auditors were asked to visit specific university offices to ask for records in person.
On average, 56.67 percent of requests across the state were met with compliance, which means that officials either provided the records or directed auditors to the university’s legal affairs office. Statewide, only 11.67 percent of requests resulted in the records being provided.
The requests at UC had a 60 percent compliance rate, just above the state average. Only one record was provided immediately, however.
UC’s Office of General Counsel is responsible for receiving and responding to requests for public records, according to the university’s public records policy.
“While requests need not be in writing, the university strongly encourages that the records being requested be described in writing,” UC’s public records policy reads.
The university complied with requests for the performance evaluation of the university’s provost, the operating budget for the university’s education college, and the amount of money brought in from ticket sales at home football games.
Though three requests were complied with, only one request resulted in an actual record: the football ticket sales. UC brought in $4,719,605 from home football ticket sales in the 2014-15 academic year.
The other compliant requests resulted in being directed to legal affairs.
However, the university denied a request for the names of students who committed violent crimes in the 2014-15 academic year. One official said that the records aren’t public under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which is used to protect student information.
However, in an investigation of crime and punishment on U.S. college campuses, the Columbus Dispatch successfully requested the same record from most Ohio public universities.
UC officials also obstructed a request for the amount of money spent on travel by the university’s foundation by saying the information isn’t covered by public records law.
In both cases where the requests were obstructed or denied, university officials also asked for the auditors to identify themselves. Under Ohio’s Sunshine laws, requesters are not required to identify themselves or state a reason for their request.