Original Title IX reporter shares thoughts on upcoming records release

Recent WKU graduate Nicole Ares won the nationally competitive Betty Gage Holland Award, which recognizes outstanding student journalism. Carrie Pratt/ College Heights Herald adviser 

Jacob Latimer

WKU denied records requested by the Herald in 2016 while Nicole Ares was reporting a sexual misconduct story. Now the university will release the records.

Four years ago, Ares, a former Herald reporter and current digital marketing strategist for C2 Strategic Communications in Louisville, wrote “In The Dark”— a story that would later win her multiple state and national journalism awards.

“In The Dark” introduced readers to a world of misconduct and hidden Title IX records among multiple Kentucky universities, including WKU. Ares, a senior at the time, requested records from all state universities in Kentucky. She went through thousands of pages of court documents and records to put together the story.

“It started out as a routine open records request,” Ares said. “We had seen that UK had some trouble getting similar records from their university, so we decided to request them from our school and some other state universities.”

After these requests were denied by WKU and Kentucky State, Ares decided to pursue the story deeper.

Once the story came out, Ares stated that the reaction from students was primarily positive, especially once it was recognized with awards. To Ares, however, the university tended to ignore the story as a whole.

Since the records were denied, there have been a variety of rulings in the case of UK’s student newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel, as well as involvements from former attorney general and current Governor Andy Beshear about the records.

On March 25, WKU announced it will be releasing the Title IX records after a decision made in a similar case regarding the Kentucky Kernel. Ares stated that she didn’t expect the records to take so long to be released.

“It feels good,” Ares said. “I know this is going to be a precedent now for open records of this nature moving forward and that universities can’t hide these types of things.”

Attorneys representing the Herald and the Kentucky Kernel recently requested that WKU release these records within the next 10 days after their demand letter on April 1.

Jacob Latimer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jacoblatimer_.