Scrutiny of Scholar’s Emails

January 14, 2015 / Phil Lesch

Inside Higher Ed
January 14th, 2015

A tug of war is brewing at the University of Kansas. On one side the rope are privacy protections in the name of academic freedom. On the other, a pull for public’s right to know.

Somewhere in the center hovers the challenge of balancing competing interests of transparency and scholars’ privacy.

A Kansas student group says it wants to investigate the relationship between a university lecturer and Charles and David Koch, who fund the employee’s work. The group suspects Art Hall, the director of the university's Center for Applied Economics, of being a “stealth lobbyist” for the billionaire Koch brothers, who are known for their conservative views.

But Hall argues the students are using the state’s open-records law to request a decade's worth of his emails. He calls it a fishing expedition that, if effective, could have a chilling effect on scholarly communication via email.

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