Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Is the First Amendment Alive and Well at CSU???

So I am curious whether my learned colleague Dr. Bionaz is maintaining the requisite civility standards for this forum. Should he wonder about whether the First Amendment still resides on state property I offer the following for consideration. From the Albuquerque Journal, this story gives me hope that the Constitution is not a suggestion but a reality.
It also gave me pause to consider that it appears that a pattern is forming with regard to a state institution not responding to Freedom of Information Act requests as required by law. Your humble narrator submitted two FOIA requests, one on June 11th, and the second on June 17th. It is the latter request that I am very concerned about.
"(5 ILCS 140/3) (d) Each public body shall, promptly, either comply with or deny a request for public records within 5 business days after its receipt of the request, unless the time for response is properly extended under subsection (e) of this Section. Denial shall be in writing as provided in Section 9 of this Act. Failure to comply with a written request, extend the time for response, or deny a request within 5 business days after its receipt shall be considered a denial of the request. A public body that fails to respond to a request within the requisite periods in this Section but thereafter provides the requester with copies of the requested public records may not impose a fee for such copies. A public body that fails to respond to a request received may not treat the request as unduly burdensome under subsection (g)."

As this reference will attest, the university has 5 business days to respond and as of this post I have received no response from the university. This constitutes a denial of the request under the statute. This is the third request that has gone unresponded to this year. The Attorney General's office has already responded to my first request for review.
What is of the gravest concern to me is the content of the request. As you will see below I am requesting information that has a safety/security component that affects the entire university community. 

Highlighted sections are mine

If people are being banned from campus, then as a member of the campus community, don't I have a responsibility to know who these dangerous miscreants are so that I may dutifully report them to the authorities so that everyone will be safe and no one's feelings will be hurt? I understand state resources are constantly on guard to protect certain administration officials from harm or insults or dirty looks. Hardly what police officers signed up to do I would imagine. 
Yes, loyal readers, you may be as dubious as I am about members of the campus community and/or members of the public being banned from a state university but I am most concerned about the process that led to them being banned in the first place. Please note in my request the second bullet. It seems to me that if someone is banned and there is no policy for banning them that a 14th Amendment due process suit against the university could be in the offing. As officers of the university have fiduciary responsibility for the institution, I would dare say that anyone who participated in such a decision might not be protected under state law. Just a guess because as you my loyal readers know, I only play an attorney in my own imagination much like this regime plays at being university administrators.
I, of course, expect that after my request for review is received, I will be told there are no records responsive to my request, which would then beg the question, are there any persons banned from CSU at all and if there are no records responsive to my request and any of these unrecorded "banned" individuals shows up on campus then what happens. I am curious if the university intentionally chose not to mention its compliance with what I would assume is university policy, to the Higher Learning Commission in its recently submitted monitoring report.

Redactions are mine

It could put the university at risk for another lawsuit and as everybody knows the insurance certainly won't pay for that one.
Loyal readers, do stay tuned to see how this turns out. Maybe your humble narrator will end up on the banned list as well and will need to perform his duties from outside of the confines of this most venerable , (apologies) vulnerable institution.


  1. According to the University of Illinois, they processed 621 FOIA requests in 2013. 13 went to the Public Access Counselor. Since late October 2013, I have submitted between 25-30 FOIA requests to Chicago State. In order to get a response, I have sent at least 16 requests for review to the Public Access Counselor. I guess the legal department at Chicago State is much busier than the one at Illinois. After all, they have to investigate people for violations of things like the new Electronic Harassment and Cyberbullying Policy or other similarly important breaches of university "civility."

  2. Your comment about pattern of non-responsiveness is exactly re what's needed re evidence of Discrimination and Retaliation (according to Regional Attorney for Office of Civil Rights).