Releasing names won’t help UI scandal

_Editor’s note: In the original version of this editorial, it stated that the Sept. 30 hearing between the Chicago Tribune and the University of Illinois was about releasing the GPAs and test scores of students admitted to the University through clout. It also stated that the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act was passed in 1947. In fact, the hearing was about releasing the students’ names and the act was passed in 1974. This editorial has been corrected._

While the University investigates its latest case of questionable transparency, it juggles with another: the release of Category I students’ names.

The Chicago Tribune and the University argued in court Friday about whether the University has to release the names of students admitted under the “Category I” list.

The University argued that they can’t release the names because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, which states that a university may lose federal money if it releases students’ private information. But there’s a better reason not to release the scores: student privacy.

The Chicago Tribune is undoubtedly pursuing legal action to secure the scores to root out more corruption at the University, to reveal how clout was leveraged into admission and to aid the public good, but once a request, under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, is deemed to be part of the public record, it is public for everyone.

Although the Tribune presumably wouldn’t just release a list of names without context, someone may use the information inappropriately if it is deemed to be public.

The public’s right to know often trumps arguments for privacy, but, in this case, there isn’t much more the public can know. We know which administrators and legislators were involved in the clout scandal, and many top University administrators have resigned over their alleged involvement. Would knowing the exact identities for Category I students really tell us much more about clout in the University? And would it help the situation at all?

Our school has a long way to go before it can recover from this and other admission scandals, especially considering how history seems to be repeating itself with the College of Law.

Publishing the names of students, though, wouldn’t do anything to help resolve what had happened with the clout scandal, nor is it worth putting any number of students’ right to privacy in jeopardy.