Stevens, on the other hand, said this should not be a concern because the DTH is not requesting the names of sexual assault victims. He said the University’s brief only referred to perpetrators once and questioned why the University was protecting these people’s privacy.
“What’s the privacy interest in keeping secret the names of people who have committed heinous sexual offenses on campus?” he said. “Why is the University protecting sexual predators at all?”
Brennan rejected what she called "attacks" on the University's motives, saying that there is no supporting evidence for bad faith on UNC's part.
The DTH filed the lawsuit in November 2016, along with WRAL, The Charlotte Observer and the Durham Herald-Sun, after the University failed to meet a one-month deadline for the public records request. The North Carolina Superior Court ruled in May 2017 that the disclosure of the request was at UNC’s discretion.
The DTH appealed the decision in September 2017, and the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled in April 2018 that the University must release the names of people found responsible for rape, sexual assault or any related acts of sexual misconduct through the University's Honor Court, Committee on Student Conduct or Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office.
Jane Wester was the editor-in-chief of the DTH when the request was filed. Wester since graduated from the University but came to Tuesday’s arguments to follow the course of the conflict.
Wester and her coworkers at the DTH initially requested to see how the new UNC sexual assault policy, which was instituted a few years after a Title IX complaint, was working. She said the request is still as relevant now as it was three years ago.
“They’ve been using the argument of, ‘It reveals details of the victims,’ all along, and I think it’s just important to know that the request is only about perpetrators and how they’re being punished,” Wester said. “We’re not requesting the details of what led to the punishment or anything like that.”