Joey Stipek is a journalism senior who serves as an editor on the Special Projects Desk. Joey has worked as the online editor and a reporter at The Daily. He has interned multiple times at the Colorado Springs Gazette, The Oklahoman and Oklahoma Watch.

OU denied requests for parking ticket records, but are they private by law?

OU disagrees with state and federal experts about whether parking tickets count as private educational records, like transcripts, under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

As a child, my favorite toy was Domino Rally. The purpose of Domino Rally was to setup dominos in patterns like butterflies or cats. Eventually, you would knock over a domino; that would set off a chain-reaction, knocking all of the other dominoes over.

I can’t help but remind myself of Domino Rally after the events that transpired this past week in regards to The Daily’s fight for student parking tickets.

After The Daily announced it would be joining my lawsuit against OU for access to student parking ticket records, OU President David Boren said the records were open. That was the first domino.

The next domino was Oklahoma State University. The univserity announced the same thing, allowing student journalists, or other members of the media, to request student parking tickets through its open record office.

This action, in my opinion, is a positive consequence of not only The Daily’s front-page editorial, but my lawsuit, as well.

I remember talking with Jonathan Sutton, now a reporter at The Oklahoman, about his story on student parking tickets over the course of the fall 2012 semester. While I have not been in a communication with Jonathon, I’d like to think he is as pleased about the outcome of this weeks past events as I.

There are other dominos that fell with regard to legality issues of student parking tickets. Administrators at the University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Missouri still cite the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act as reasons to withhold student parking tickets to student journalists and other media members.

For those student journalists, I’d recommend utilizing state Freedom of Information groups and the Student Press Law Center as resources when looking into the legality of student parking tickets.

Because, as you know, if you knock over one domino, others dominoes start to fall.

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