that logic, campus visitors could disregard parking laws because the school has no enforcement power beyond threatening administrative consequences like holding a diploma.
"It’s not a law enforcement matter,” OSU spokesman Gary Shutt said. "Our administrative people would request payments from visitors who were ticketed. I don’t know how far that would go before we would turn that over to law enforcement.”
Frank LoMonte, an attorney and executive director of the Student Press Law Center, said the courts and Congress have been clear that the law refers to academic records like grades.
"It is meant to be applied in a common sense way to educational records,” LoMonte said. "There are a lot of laws you could interpret to a ridiculous extreme. But that’s not the way courts read laws.”
School officials said they are cautious because they fear losing funding if they violate the law.
LoMonte said such concerns are laughable.
"In the 36-year history of FERPA, it has never happened,” LoMonte said. "No school has been penalized one dime.”
The problem of secretive universities isn’t unique to Oklahoma, said Charles Davis, an associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the executive director for the National Freedom of Information Coalition.
"Universities have always struck me as deeply ironic because they are ostensibly all about the discovery of information.”
"When it comes to academic freedom, they are. When it comes to the information within the bureaucracy they create, they are among the most secretive institutions in government.”