CMU SPJ to host panel on cost of FOIA requests

Central Michigan University’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will be hosting a panel to discuss a report they will be releasing exposing the costs and inconsistent standards of Freedom Of Information Act requests from public universities across Michigan on March 16.

The panel will explain the responses from each university concerning FOIA requests and the established audit process used to test similar FOIA requests.

Arielle Hines, CMU SPJ President and Editor-in-chief of Insider, said the audit suggests allegedly public information isn’t available to the public in reality.

“This audit shows that practically most information is not really open to the public,” Hines said. “Students do not have the means of acquiring factual information about their campuses.”

Findings in the report highlight that it would cost more than $20,000, including Michigan State University charging $2.330.37 to obtain police incident reports on sexual assaults and the University of Michigan charging $2,774.32 for the president’s expenses, to obtain the records of three similar FOIA requests from 13 Michigan universities.

Panelists for the event include John Irwin, founder of CMU Insider and reporter for Automative News, Paul Egan from the Detroit Free Press, Lisa Yanick-Jonaitis, reporter at the Morning Sun, Hugh Madden and Lonnie Scott of the government accountability group Progress Michigan and Jarrett Skorup from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

CMU’s SPJ chapter sent FOIA requests for a year’s worth of records for each university president’s discretionary spending and each university’s police incident reports regarding any sexual assault.

The requests were sent to CMU, Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Western Michigan University, Northern Michigan University, Michigan Technological University, Northern Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Lake Superior State University, Oakland University, Wayne State University, Ferris State University and Saginaw Valley State University.

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