No surprises in leaked copy of UI poll

Ryan Foley, the Associated Press’ ace investigative reporter in Iowa City, has obtained a copy of the 2014 opinion poll that the University of Iowa is trying to keep secret, claiming it has no public interest.

You can read Foley’s report, which moved on the AP wires on Feb. 4, by clicking here.

The secret report was prepared by the polling company hired by university administrators to measure people’s impressions of the Iowa City school and its reputation. The poll’s findings aren’t going to shock anyone who has followed the University of Iowa in recent years.

The poll report warned the University of Iowa that its public standing was suffering from an image as a heavy-drinking school where sexual assault was too common.

The pollster said those perceptions meant the school was no longer considered safe by some parents and students. The school had lost some credibility “as a serious academic institution,” the report to UI administrators said.

The AP article continued: “The school has said that releasing the information would help rival schools and ‘serve no public purpose.’ But the secrecy has been pilloried by open government advocates, including Iowa Freedom of Information Council executive director Randy Evans, who suggested this week that the school was illegally trying to hide embarrassing information.
“ ‘If the research had found Iowans heralding the university’s academic prowess or its cost versus value in Iowans’ eyes, you probably would see billboards touting that,’ Evans said.”

In a column that was written for Iowa newspapers about the polling controversy, Evans said Iowans are entitled to know what the polling found regarding their perceptions and impressions of the school.

He wrote in an earlier letter to new UI President Bruce Harreld: “Public accountability is precisely what the Iowa Legislature had in mind when it wrote the open records law, especially documents generated at public expense that your institution is keeping confidential. If you and the university continue to treat these documents as a secret, you will erode the public trust in the University of Iowa and in your stewardship of the institution.”

You can read Evans’ entire column on the UI controversy by clicking here.