The possibility that members of LSU’s Board of Supervisors could be headed to jail for their refusal to honor basic standards of government transparency should embarrass everyone in LSU’s community of supporters.
District Judge Janice Clark warned the board on Monday that its members face possible imprisonment if they don’t comply with her court order to make public the records the board used in a secretive presidential search.
The Advocate sued after the university board refused to release the records, and The Times-Picayune joined the suit later. Clark ruled that the records should be public, but the board has refused to follow Clark’s court order to release the documents. The board has been in contempt of court for 118 days, amassing a nearly $60,000 fine. Now, it appears that board members could find themselves behind bars if they don’t comply with Clark’s court order.
As Louisiana’s flagship university, LSU faces serious challenges in trying to rebound from years of devastating budget cuts. Instead of marshaling public support to advance the university’s future, the LSU board is instead doing everything in its power to deny residents proper oversight of the board’s deliberations.
The result has been a discouraging theater of the absurd. Do we really want LSU board members donning prison jumpsuits in the defense of government secrecy?
It’s past time for the LSU board to end this charade, release records that should have been made public long ago, and get on with the important work of turning LSU into a world-class institution.