Students sue Western Washington for sexual assault records

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — Three current and former journalism students at Western Washington University are suing the administration to obtain the names of students found to have committed violent offenses or sexual misconduct.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this month in Whatcom County Superior Court, says the university improperly redacted the names when it turned over documents in response to a public records request.

The plaintiffs are journalism students Erasmus Baxter and Julia Furukawa and alumna Asia Fields. They said they have previously reported on cases in which Western quickly readmitted students following sexual assault findings or convictions, and that obtaining the names is necessary for ensuring accountability.

Washington state law concerning the privacy of educational records specifically allows universities to release the names of students found to have committed such offenses, along with the violations and the sanctions imposed.

Western Washington said in a written statement it believes the redactions complied with the state Public Records Act.