When I asked why the names were kept under wraps, the university's controller, Michael Beach, informed me it was because of releasing student names might violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA is the law that makes academic records private, but some have seized on it as a cloak to hide documents that are otherwise public.
Recently, Granite School District invoked FERPA in an attempt to deny The Salt Lake Tribune records on its investigation of an alleged "inappropriate relationship" between Cottonwood High's former head football coach and a student.
Beach also told me that the police officers' names were redacted for "personal safety." While the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) allows holding back information on undercover officers, it is inconceivable to think that the entire SUU campus police force, including its chief, are all undercover operatives.
To break through the logjam, I filed a GRAMA request for an unredacted salary database. The university's initial response was to give me the same database as submitted to the state, with the same reasons for not fully granting the request.
After a GRAMA appeal challenging both withholdings, and noting, with help from the Student Press Law Center, that FERPA does not apply to student wages, we got the full database, which is now online. This gives the public, whose funds support SUU, a better look at how their money is being spent.