In a recent statement released by UK President Eli Capilouto, he expounds upon the controversial lawsuit filed by the University against its student-run newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel.
In this announcement, we’ve noticed a few things that seem slightly erroneous, given the publicly available facts regarding the case. As Capilouto is an intelligent man, we’ve deduced that these portions of his statement must be typographical errors. We’ve taken the liberty of identifying them, and presenting a corrected version to the public. His statement is as follows:
“In the coming weeks, we will be appealing a number of opinions from the Office of the Kentucky Attorney General regarding questions about open records and meetings. In the issues before the Office of the Attorney General, and now the courts, the responsibility to share information is at odds with another sacred responsibility: protecting the privacy of our students, faculty, staff and those for whom we provide care.”
In this first paragraph, Capilouto displays a classic typo — one that has plagued us all at one time or another — the accidental omission of a word. In this case, it was the word “not.” The statement should read, “…the responsibility to share information is not at odds with another sacred responsibility.” This is because the Attorney General ordered disclosure of the records to the Kernel with all names and personal identifiers of victims redacted. To suggest that any sort of conflict exists here is fallacious, at best. The president has obviously made a typo.
“And in these moments of conflict, we believe strongly in the need to protect the privacy of members of our community: our students, patients, faculty, and staff.”
This isn’t really a typo so much as unnecessary information. It should probably be eliminated from the email, for the sake of conciseness. As mentioned before, all names and personal identifiers are redacted — the only person whose privacy these documents could conceivably violate is that of the sexual offender himself, James Harwood. And I mean, it’s not like James Harwood is particularly concerned about privacy himself, considering how he got in this mess. But alas, he does not fall under the umbrella of “our community” anyway, because — according to an agreement with the university — he has resigned with pay until August 31, and is being allowed to keep his tenured position to teach at other universities. As such, statements about the privacy of members of our community are not really relevant to this letter. Gotta remember to proofread, Eli.
“We respect the role the Office of the Attorney General plays in ensuring the people of Kentucky have access in an open and transparent fashion to the actions of public agencies, including universities. And we respect the role the media and private citizens play in ensuring transparency and accountability.”
Another omitted word. This time, both passages should be read as “We don’t respect…” This can be inferred, of course, from the fact that they are suing their own students’ newspaper in an attempt to undermine both of these institutions.
“As the university for Kentucky…”
Here, he misspelled a word. The name of the associate professor who committed multiple counts of sexual assault and harassment against students is James Harwood, not Kentucky.
“…a foundational value must always be the free, open and vigorous exchange of ideas. It is the bedrock of a university where people learn and discover each day and the values of academic freedom and creative scholarship flourish.”
This part is good by itself, but seems a bit tonally inconsistent, given that it contradicts the message of the rest of the letter.
“As the state’s largest university and its flagship, land-grant institution, we received about 800 open records requests last year alone, likely more than any single institution in the Commonwealth. And we fully and quickly complied with more than 90 percent of them.
“…in a handful of very specific cases, we are faced with the decision of whether transparency is more important than the need to protect the privacy and dignity of individual members of our community. It is not.”
As mentioned before, the specific order from the Attorney General already addressed privacy concerns about the release of this information. So, the underlined part here can’t possibly be what Capilouto meant to say. He does tend to have a habit of phrasing things verbosely in these emails. Sometimes, his articulation just gets in the way of what he means to say. Remember: simpler is better. In this case, a simpler way of stating the message he’s trying to get across is: “…we are faced with the decision of whether transparency is more important than the need to protect the reputation of this university, and by extension the reputation of myself. It is not.”
“For example, we will never disclose the name of a victim of violence who comes forward to reveal a traumatic experience with an expectation of confidentiality. This protection is essential not only to the well-being of a particular victim, but also goes to the confidence other victims will have that they, too, can come forward, in safety and confidentially, so that we can investigate allegations of wrong-doing and enforce appropriate disciplinary action against perpetrators. It also goes to protecting the identities of those accused of wrong-doing.”
Wow. Talk about a typo fiesta.
While the excerpt alone carries a victim-supportive tone, the university’s actions are a direct conflict with the victims’ wishes, as the document request originated from a representative of the victims. With its actions, the University has proven that, in cases where multiple students have independently accused a professor of sexual assault, it’s reluctant to support the victims and follow their wishes.
And again, the Attorney General ruled that personal identifiers of the accused should be omitted as well, so the stated reason of “protecting the accused” doesn’t really work here, either.
Overall, this paragraph is just so wrought with errors and irrelevant information that it really should have been deleted in its entirety.
“In addition, we will not provide information about the course of treatment for a dire disease that a patient receives from one of our providers. And we will not grant access to private and preliminary information – whether it involves a grade point average or a disciplinary file — concerning our students, faculty and staff. Moreover, we will not reveal the confidential communications with our attorneys – a privilege we all expect and share.”
Here, Capilouto didn’t fully finish his sentence. This underlined, incomplete phrase seems to imply that “attorney client privilege” is a valid reason for withholding records under Kentucky law even after a settlement for the criminal proceedings has been reached. In order to prevent this confusion from occurring, Capilouto probably meant to say “…a privilege we all expect and share, until after the point at which enforcement action is completed, or a decision is made to take no action, in which case these legal protections no longer apply, and are not a valid excuse to withhold records, as explicitly stated in KRS 61.818 (1)(h).”
By not omitting this information, the President ensures that he doesn’t accidentally indicate that the University’s actions are legally justified.
“We believe the confidential nature of each of these instances is protected by both federal and state law. Protecting and preserving that confidentiality is fundamental to ensuring Kentucky’s flagship and land-grant research university effectively operates at all levels – from a first-year teaching assistant to the Board of Trustees. The Office of the Attorney General, in a number of recent opinions, disagrees with our stance as do media that are exercising their duty to pursue information.
“That is why it is appropriate – and our responsibility – to now pursue a resolution to these respectful differences of opinion in a court of law.
“Thank you for what you do to make these values real and tangible for all of us who call this special place home.”
Here, Capilouto accidentally mixes up his tenses. This sentence is phrased in the present tense, as though they had not already pursued such a resolution, and gotten it. It should be phrased in the past tense, because the Attorney General already came down on the side of the Kentucky Kernel. It should read “That is why it was appropriate to then pursue a resolution to these differences of opinion. This resolution was already given to us, and we are now trying to desperately stall it out with over-litigation, and have no real legal or moral justification to do so.”
By Philly le’Phlumph
Editor’s note: Actually, scratch this whole thing. Upon further examination, the President’s entire email is one giant typo. It should read: “We will release the records to the Kentucky Kernel.”