Indiana University: Public Records Request for Professor’s Emails, Accusation of Policy Violations After Writing About Presidential Search

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Indiana University – Bloomington

On October 4, 2021, Indiana University Law Professor Steve Sanders published a story on his personal blog criticizing IU’s secretive presidential search. Before he published that story, Sanders learned that a law firm — which IU had previously retained in other matters — made a public records request for Sanders’s emails relating to IU’s presidential search. Sanders subsequently learned that the request had been made at the direction of IU’s administration. On November 3,  Jacqueline Simmons, then IU’s General Counsel, responded to a complaint Sanders had made about IU and alleged that Sanders had violated IU policies in researching and writing about the presidential search. On December 15, FIRE wrote to IU arguing that Simmons’s accusation chilled faculty expression and calling on IU’s administration to clarify its involvement in the public records request. After IU did not respond, FIRE sent the university a follow-up letter on January 19, 2022.