Student who sued school and won is first recipient of OCOG open government award
By Josh Park, ONA Program Support Specialist
Anna Schiffbauer, former Otterbein University senior who filed a lawsuit against her school in order to obtain campus police records, will be the first recipient of the Ohio Coalition for Open Government’s Champion of Open Government Award.
The fight for open records at Otterbein University began in 2011 when campus security formally became the Otterbein Police Department. Upon this transition, the university’s student-run newspaper and website made several requests for police records that were denied by campus police.
After more than two years of OPD refusing to hand over records, the staff decided it was time to take action. In February 2014, Schiffbauer, a senior studying psychology and business administration and news editor of Otterbein360.com, filed a lawsuit against Otterbein with the Ohio Supreme Court.
In a 4-3 decision, the court decided on May 21, 2015 in favor of Schiffbauer, asking Otterbein’s police chief, Larry Banaszak, to release the records they previously refused to hand over.
In recognition of Schiffbauer’s extraordinary leadership, courage and hard work, the ONA is proud to present her the first Champion of Open Government Award. The award, underwritten by Civitas Media, is given to an individual or organization in recognition of their “passion and mission of ongoing advocacy and contributions to open and transparent government in Ohio.”
“In recognizing Anna, the committee also is recognizing the other courageous student journalists at Otterbein who took on the administration and won,” said Dennis Hetzel, OCOG president. “The committee also wants to publicly recognize the tremendous support the students received from their faculty advisor, Hillary Warren, and attorney Jack Greiner, who represented the students for a sharply reduced fee.”
Schiffbauer graduated from Otterbein in May 2014 with a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology and business administration. After graduation, she became a journalism intern at the Student Press Law Center. Schiffbauer currently works at Hamilton Capital Management as a client relations representative.
She will receive her award on Wednesday, February 17 during the 2016 ONA Convention cocktail reception.