Eastern Michigan University

EMU and Michigan's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

Eastern Michigan University complies with Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Any individual other than a federal, state or county prisoner has the right to inspect and/or receive copies of public records maintained by the University.

If you wish to request public records from the University, this website is designed to assist you.
For more detailed information on the FOIA, visit the Michigan Attorney General website regarding the Act

FOIA Coordinator – Tracey Piercecchi
FOIA Officer – Gloria Hage
Legal Affairs
11 Welch Hall
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
734-487-1055
foia.coordinator@emich.edu

FOIA FAQs

What is a public record?

The Michigan FOIA defines a public record as “a writing prepared, owned, used, in the possession of, or retained by, a public body in the performance of an official function, from the time it is created." (MCL15.232) A person's correspondence requesting information under the FOIA is itself considered a public record. Computer software is specifically excluded from the definition of public record. The Act does not require EMU to make a compilation, summary, or report of information, or to create a new public record, except as required in section 11.

The Act defines a "writing" as "handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostatting, photographing, photocopying, and every other means of recording, and includes letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combinations thereof, and papers, maps, magnetic or paper tapes, photographic films or prints, microfilm, microfiche, magnetic or punched cards, discs, drums, or other means of recording or retaining meaningful content.”

How do I make a FOIA request with the University?

An eligible person “desiring to inspect or receive a copy of a public record shall make a written request for the public record to the FOIA coordinator of a public body”, “describing the public record sufficiently to enable the public body to find the public record”. The request should also include a mailing address and/or email address to which a response can be sent.

Written requests are accepted via email and mail.

The email address for FOIA requests is foia.coordinator@emich.edu. A written request made by electronic mail is not received by a public body's FOIA coordinator until 1 business day after the electronic transmission is made.

The physical address for mailing is:

EMU Legal Affairs
ATTN: FOIA Coordinator
11 Welch Hall
Ypsilanti, MI 48197

A FOIA request can be submitted to any office at the University and that office is responsible for promptly forwarding the request to the FOIA Office. However, persons are encouraged to submit their requests directly to the FOIA Office to avoid inadvertent delays.

Will I receive all the records that I request?

You will receive all existing requested public records that are not exempt from disclosure. The FOIA provides a number of exemptions ranging from matters of privacy, medical records to most student records. (MCL15.243) The decision whether material should be withheld is made by the FOIA Office after consultation with other appropriate offices, if necessary. The FOIA Officer and FOIA Coordinator have the authority, delegated by the President, to deny a FOIA request in part or in full.

When will I receive a response to my request?

EMU’s FOIA Office shall respond to a request for a public record within 5 business days after receiving the request, although the response period can be extended for up to an additional 10 business days.

Requests may be granted, denied in full or in part, citing one or more exemptions specified in the FOIA, or certified that the requested document(s) does not exist.

Are there fees for retrieving and copying documents?

The FOIA Office may charge a fee for the search, review, copying and mailing of documents. Generally, the fee is waived if the estimate to retrieve the requested information is less than $50.00.

Fees are calculated pursuant to MCL15.234, which states “In calculating the cost of labor incurred in duplication and mailing and the cost of examination, review, separation, and deletion under subsection (1), a public body may not charge more than the hourly wage of the lowest paid public body employee capable of retrieving the information necessary to comply with a request under this act.

If it is determined that a fee will be charged, the FOIA Office notifies the requester of the estimated cost. If the estimate exceeds $50, the Act allows the University to require a good faith deposit of 50% of the estimate before processing the request. If a deposit is not received within 90 days, requests will be considered withdrawn.

The first $20.00 of a fee is waived for each request to an eligible individual who submits an affidavit stating that the individual is then receiving public assistance or, if not receiving public assistance, stating facts showing inability to pay the cost because of indigency.

Can I inspect a public record in person?

The University is required to provide "a reasonable opportunity for inspection and examination of its public records, and shall furnish reasonable facilities for making memoranda or abstracts from its public records during the usual business hours" (MCL15.233 (3)) EMU’s “usual business hours” are Monday-Friday from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, except for holidays, and unexpected closure days. The FOIA Office may apply reasonable rules to protect EMU’s records and to prevent excessive and unreasonable interference with the discharge of EMUs functions. Please note that in some instances where original documents contain exempt information, the exempt material may be removed and copies made for inspection.

The FOIA Office may charge a fee for the cost of searching for and reviewing the original records before the requester can examine them, when applicable.

What recourse do I have if all or part of my FOIA request is denied?

If the University makes a final determination to deny all or a portion of your request, you may do one of the following at your option (MCL15.240) :

  1. Submit to the University President a written appeal that specifically states the word “appeal” and identifies the reason(s) for the denial to be reversed;
  2. Commence an action in the circuit court to compel the University’s disclosure of the public records within 180 days after the final determination to deny the request. If you prevail, you may be awarded costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.

You may mail your appeal to:
Eastern Michigan University
ATTN: President
202 Welch Hall
Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Or you may email your appeal to the President at: president@emich.edu

 

Can I request student records?

Student’s educational records are protected from disclosure under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). In most instances, the University does not release material contained in student records except for information that is designated as "directory information." The University has designated the following as “directory information”:

  1. name
  2. email address (see IT Directory)
  3. enrollment status
  4. major field
  5. dates of attendance
  6. degree received and date awarded
  7. honors and awards received
  8. participation in recognized activities
  9. most recent previous school attended
  10. height and weight of members of intercollegiate athletics teams

Currently, enrolled students may elect to have such public information withheld by filing a written request with the Registrar's Office during each term they are enrolled.

For additional information regarding FERPA visit EMU's FERPA page, or the U.S. Department of Education's website.