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Baxter v. Western Washington University

October 2018
Western Washington University (Public college or university)
Bellingham, WA 98225

Identity of Speakers

  • Eramus Baxter
    Student
    Other

    Baxter was a student at Western Washington University was a member of The Western Washington Front.

  • Asia Fields
    Student
    Other

    Fields was a student at Western Washington University was a member of The Western Washington Front.

  • Julia Furukawa
    Student
    Other

    Furukawa was a student at Western Washington University was a member of The Western Washington Front.

Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
    Other
  • Incident Responses:
    University administration not protective of speech
    Other
  • Incident Status:
    In litigation Federal District Court
  • No protest Occured
  • Did not involve Speech Codes

Summary

On May 8, 2018, The Western Front, an independent student newspaper at Western Washington University, published an article about a student who was readmitted to the University after serving a suspension for sexual assault. On October 15, 2018, student journalists filed a request for public records in order to ascertain the names of students at the University who were found responsible for sexual assault, as well as how many of those students returned to campus. The University responded on November 9, 2018, and provided the students with records detailing offenders’ sexual misconduct and violent offenses, as well as the resulting discipline that the University imposed. However, the names of the offenders were redacted. The University cited Section 42.56.230 of The Revised Code of Washington as justification for redacting the names of offenders. The Section provides nine exemptions from Washington’s Public Records Act, and states in part that “personal information in any files maintained for students in public schools” are exempt from public inspection.

On May 1, 2019, two current and one former member of the The Western Front filed suit against Western Washington University alleging that it had violated The Public Records Act. The Plaintiffs seek 1) an order stating that the University violated the Public Records Act; 2) an order requiring the University to produce the requested records without redactions; 3) attorneys’ fees and costs; and 4) statutory damages.

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