Students requesting access to public records must still provide proof of Tennessee residency, the Board of Trustees decided during a June meeting.
Trustees rejected a request from the Society for Collegiate Journalists who asked the university to accept the use of student ID as proof to access records.
The board said the current policy prevents foreign students and out of state students from gaining access.
Trustees unanimously accepted a recommendation from the board’s executive committee that determines the current policy is sufficient, but clarified a student may present their ID and a copy of a bill that includes their current address.
According to state law, the university may require a driver’s license as proof of residency, however, students argued the law gives the university the option of not requiring a driver’s license.
SCJ officials presented a petition signed by 150 people who supported the proposed change.
“It was disappointing because we worked so hard to make a monumental movement for students at Tech,” SCJ member Emma Holmes said.
Journalism instructor Vanessa Curry appeared before the executive committee in May and asked members why they chose to limit access when they have the option of being more open.
“Is it your contention that the government of Tennessee is duty bound to make all of Tennessee records available to anybody from anywhere on the face of the earth?” board member Johnny Stites said.
“My key question is why would you want to? Why would you want to prohibit anyone of the face of the earth from getting public records? ” Curry said.
The board perceives the policy benefiting the taxpaying residents because they have the privilege of obtaining access to records.
“The way I see it is that these are public records that are maintained by the state of Tennessee taxpayers any entity whether it is a business or student or whatever that is residing here and paying taxes and using,” board member Tom Jones said.