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Michigan State University Employs Only Three People To Respond to 1,200 Open Records Requests

In the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal, there were many reports in the media about how Michigan State University needs to be more transparent.

“That, to me, is what transparency means: Being accountable, being responsible and communicating as effectively as possible,” MSU President Samuel Stanley Jr. said, according to The Detroit News in 2019.

But some may question MSU’s commitment to transparency, based on how many people the college have devoted to responding to open records requests.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which publishes Michigan Capitol Confidential, filed a lawsuit against MSU in 2020. At the time, MSU said it would require six hours of staff time to retrieve the information the Mackinac Center asked for in a Freedom of Information Act request. MSU hadn’t provided the documents within six months time, as of December 2020.

According to court documents, MSU has four people in its Freedom of Information Act office to deal with requests. The office consists of the director and three assistant officers who collect documents, review them and get them ready to be released. One of those four employees retired in early 2020. The office was then left with three people to handle between 700 and 1,200 FOIA requests a year.

By comparison, MSU also has a department of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives that has 11 employees. According to MSU, "The Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives leads and supports efforts to advance a diverse and inclusive campus community, consistent with MSU’s core values."

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.