If only for restating the obvious.
We the People own the University of Virginia. We the People, therefore, have a right to know what's going on there.
Or, as the Roanoke Times puts it (in "No public college is immune to FOIA"):
The University of Virginia and the American Tradition Institute were back in court last week for more epic haggling over the release of climate scientist Michael Mann's email under Virginia's Freedom of Information Act.Bottom line: We pay their paychecks. So, by God, they'll not keep secrets from us.
As the lawyers rack up billable hours and the university remains under the microscope, other institutions of higher education should take notice, lest the same happen to them.
Whatever happens, there is a lesson in all this for other schools. This was not the first time a group with an agenda came looking for public university documents.
So long as public university research informs public debates, people will ask to see documents related to that research.
It therefore behooves universities to engage in internal discussions now about how they will respond when their time comes.
If a school has adopted formal policies consistent with the law in advance, they might avoid some of the problems that UVa faces.
There are lessons in this brouhaha, and it would be a shame if educators did not learn them.
Want to preserve "academic freedom" and keep the public in the dark?
Do it on your dime.