EMU and Michigan's Freedom of Information Act
Eastern Michigan University complies with Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Section 1 of the Act provides, "It is the public policy of this state that all persons, except those persons incarcerated in state or local correctional facilities, are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and public employees, consistent with this act. The people shall be informed so that they may fully participate in the democratic process.”
If you wish to request public records from the University, this website is designed to assist you.
EMU’s Procedures and Guidelines for FOIA Requests
It is Eastern Michigan University’s (EMU) policy, consistent with the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, that all persons, except those incarcerated in state or local correctional facilities, are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those who represent them as public officials and employees.
EMU’s policy with respect to FOIA requests is to comply with State law and respond to each FOIA request in a consistent and fair manner.
EMU also acknowledges that it has a legal obligation to disclose all nonexempt public records in its possession pursuant to a FOIA request. Sometimes, however, EMU must invoke FOIA’s exemptions in denying a request, to ensure the effective operation of government and to protect the privacy of individuals under the law.
Therefore, EMU will protect the public's interest in disclosure, while withholding or redacting portions of certain records as required under the law.
EMU has established written procedures and guidelines to implement the FOIA, which are summarized below:
How to submit a FOIA request to EMU
A person wishing to inspect or receive a copy of a public record shall make a written request to EMU's FOIA coordinator. Requests must sufficiently describe the requested record so as to enable the coordinator to identify and locate the public record. An email address or physical address must be provided for the response to be sent to.
Written requests should be emailed to email@example.com or mailed/dropped off in person at 11 Welch Hall, Ypsilanti, MI 48197. Requests may be submitted to any office at EMU and that office is responsible for promptly forwarding the request to the FOIA coordinator, however, persons are encouraged to submit their requests directly to the FOIA coordinator to avoid inadvertent delays.
Requests should state that they are submitted pursuant to the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.
The Act does not obligate EMU to create a new public record or make a compilation or summary of information which does not already exist.
A public record for purposes of FOIA is defined 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. Public record does not include computer software.” The Act is a document disclosure statute. Therefore, a FOIA coordinator need not answer questions contained in requests or inquiries about the content of the records.
How EMU processes requests
EMU must respond to a FOIA request within five business days of the FOIA coordinator receiving the request.
A response will do one or more of the following:
- Grant the request in full;
- Grant the request in part. Partially granting a request would occur when a portion of the requested records do not exist, are not in the possession of EMU, and/or are exempt from disclosure;
- Deny the request. Denying a request would occur when all of the requested records do not exist, are not in the possession of EMU, and/or are exempt from disclosure;
- Issue a notice extending the response time for no greater than 10 business days;
- A cost estimate;
- A notice that the record(s) sought has (have) not been sufficiently described to enable EMU to locate the record(s).
If any part of the request is denied, EMU’s response will:
- include a description of what has been withheld or partially withheld;
- state the FOIA exemptions under which any information and/or documents are withheld, if applicable, and;
- provide options for appealing a denial;
- advise the requester of his/her rights to receive attorney’s fees and/or damages.
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.
A good-faith deposit is required when the processing of a request will result in fees greater than $50.00. The required deposit will equal up to 50% of the estimated cost of fulfilling the request as calculated at the time of the initial response. EMU will further process the request once the good-faith deposit is received.
Failure to pay the good-faith deposit will be deemed as a withdrawal of the request.
If, during the processing of the request, EMU determines that the actual costs will be higher than the original estimate, a revised cost itemization will be provided to the requesting party indicating the higher fee.
All cost estimates will include a non-binding, best efforts estimated time frame of when the final response will be provided.
Calculation of fees
Fees are calculated by adding together the following costs (see fee itemization estimate form sample [PDF]):
- Labor costs for searching for, locating, and examining responsive records
- Labor costs for review, separation, and deletion of exempt information from non-exempt information
- Cost of non-paper physical media, if used
- Cost per copy of paper copies, not to exceed $.10/page for standard 8 ½ x 11 inch paper
- Labor costs directly associated with duplication or publication, which may include copying to non-paper media
- Cost of mailing
EMU reserves the right to require payment in full of all fees included in the fee itemization calculation provided to the requester before delivering the final, responsive documents.
Fee reductions or waivers are required in certain instances involving proven indigence or non-profit organizations. When applicable, EMU will apply these reductions or waivers in accordance with the statute.
Procedures for appeals
If EMU denies a request in whole or in part, the requester may:
Submit an appeal to the president, in writing via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or standard mail at:
Eastern Michigan University
202 Welch Hall
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
The appeal must specifically use the word “appeal” and identify the reason(s) the requester seeks reversal of the denial .
The President must respond to the appeal within 10 business days by doing one of the following:
- Reverse the FOIA coordinator’s decision, in part or in full;
- Uphold the FOIA coordinator’s decision;
- Issue a notice of extension for not more than 10 additional business days.
Commence a civil action in the Court of Claims within 180 days after EMU’s final determination to deny the request.
If a requester believes that EMU has required payment of a fee that exceeds the amount permitted under these procedures and guidelines, he or she may commence an action in the Court of Claims for a fee reduction within 45 days after receiving the notice of the required fee. In this situation, EMU is not obligated to complete the processing of the written request for the public record at issue until the court resolves the fee dispute.
For more detailed information on the FOIA, visit the Michigan Attorney General website regarding the Act.
Download the EMU procedures and guidelines [PDF].