In the fall of 2018, Cameron Gutterman, Dale Nelson, Hunter Johnson and Brian Hiltunen were Indiana University Bloomington freshmen who decided to check out Greek life. They pledged Beta Theta Pi fraternity, an affiliation they continue to enjoy today as juniors who live in the fraternity house on campus.
Also in the fall of 2018, Indiana University launched against Beta Theta Pi a hazing investigation, imposing sanctions against the fraternity at its conclusion.
No wrongdoing ever was alleged against Gutterman, Nelson, Johnson or Hiltunen. Yet university officials searched their student ID card swipe data as part of their investigation. Without requesting or gaining pre-compliance, they reviewed records detailing the students’ comings and goings around campus, violating the students’ civil rights.
“Students don’t give up their constitutional rights just because they live in state university dormitories,” said Jeffrey Schwab, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center. “If state universities are going to collect data on student movements in and out of college buildings and dorm rooms, then they must take steps to protect that data and establish a process before accessing it to protect their students’ privacy.”
Best known for its landmark Janus v. AFSCME victory in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Liberty Justice Center has filed a federal lawsuit, Gutterman v. Indiana University, on the students’ behalf against IU and university President Michael McRobbie. The complaint alleges Fourth and 14th Amendment violations as well as breach of the contract existing between university and student.