Thursday, February 29, 2024

COLUMN: Here’s why we’re suing MSU

February 6, 2024
A Michigan State University sign on Beal Street on Aug. 23, 2019.
A Michigan State University sign on Beal Street on Aug. 23, 2019. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

As The State News’ editor-in-chief, I’m here to explain a step our independent student publication is taking to further our mission of informing our audience about how the university operates.

Our newspaper is suing the university for blocking the public release of information. 

The State News was seeking documents through a public records request about employees who were found to have been investigated by the Office of Institutional Equity more than once and found not responsible for misconduct.

We were denied access to the names of employees, so we appealed. In response, MSU Interim President Teresa Woodruff argued this information was private. She didn’t provide any specific reasoning, though, just that she “disagreed” with the fact that The State News needed the names for its reporting.

This information is essential for us to continue our coverage and understanding of the university’s handling of campus sexual violence. We’re dedicated to continuing our extensive coverage on this issue, but we can’t do it when being unlawfully shut down from accessing documents like these.

I addressed you this summer about MSU barring media access. This points toward a concerning trend of the university taking inappropriate actions to block the media and hide its potential misconduct. The safety of the university community could be at stake. 

MSU can’t deny our access to these records because it “disagrees” with our reporting. It needs to fulfill its legal obligations under FOIA and make good on the constant, apparently hollow, promises of transparency and accountability.

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