Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Processing

Policy number11-02
Responsible officeGeneral Counsel
Enforcement officialWMU FOIA Officer
ClassificationBoard of Trustees-delegated Policy
Category11. Federal and State Civil Protections

Statement of policy

Anyone, excluding prisoners in state or local correctional facilities, may file a Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with WMU. Within five business days of receiving a written request, WMU must: grant the request; partially grant the request; deny the request; inform the requestor that additional time is needed; require a fee deposit prior to further processing; or inform the requestor that the requested record has not been sufficiently described.

Summary of contents/major changes

Put in updated template; consolidated policy statements from other locations into one University Policy; separate out procedures.

  1. Purpose of Policy

    This Policy sets out WMU’s duties with regard to Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act.

  2. Stakeholders Most Impacted by the Policy

    All individuals who submit or receive requests for documents pursuant to Michigan’s FOIA statute.

  3. Key Definitions

    1. Business Day:  Monday through Friday. A Business Day does not include holidays or institutional closure days.

    2. FOIA Office: The FOIA Office is housed within the Office of the General Counsel at 1903 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49003-5426. The email address is The phone number is (269) 387-1900.

    3. Head of the Public Entity:  For purposes of FOIA appeals, WMU considers the President of the University to be the Head of the Public Entity.

  4. Full Policy Details

    1. Michigan’s FOIA provides for public access to certain records of public bodies; sets out a fee structure for responding to requests; and provides remedies and penalties for a public body’s failure to respond to a proper request.

    2. WMU will respond to all FOIA requests in accordance with the rules set forth by the Michigan FOIA Statute.

    3. WMU’s Board of Trustees has adopted procedures and guidelines regarding establishing fees charged and collected for processing FOIA requests.

    4. Submitting FOIA Requests
      1. A FOIA request must be submitted in writing to the FOIA Office. The request may be transmitted in hard copy, by email, or by facsimile. Verbal requests will not be accepted.

      2. Requests must include: 

        1. Sufficient description of the record(s) sought to enable WMU to locate the record(s);

        2. Requestor’s contact information including the person’s complete name, address, and, if the request is made on behalf of another entity, the entity’s name; and

        3. Statement that the request is being submitted pursuant to the Michigan FOIA.

      3. Requests will be deemed received:

        1. If hand-delivered or via hard copy mail, the date of receipt in the FOIA Office;

        2. If received electronically, the next business day after electronic receipt.

        3. If misrouted elsewhere on campus or delivered to the FOIA Office’s electronic junk mail folder, the request will be deemed received one business day after the FOIA Office becomes aware of the request. 

    5. WMU’s Response to the Request

      Within five business days of receiving the request, the FOIA Office will:


      1.  Grant the request;

      2. Partially grant and partially deny the request;

      3. Deny the request;

      4. Request additional time, up to ten business days or such other time as agreed upon, to process the request;

      5. Grant the request, but provide a notice that a fee deposit is required prior to further processing; or

      6. Provide a notice that the record(s) sought has (have) not been sufficiently described to enable the relevant departments or offices at WMU to locate the record(s).

    6. WMU may deny a request for the following reasons:

      1. Some or a portion of the records do not exist;

      2. The requested records are not in WMU’s possession; and/or

      3. The records are otherwise exempt from disclosure. (In this instance, WMU’s response will identify the statutory exemptions under which any information and/or documents are withheld. See FAQ, below.)

      4. If any part of a request for records is denied, the response will set forth the procedures for challenging and/or appealing that denial. See Procedures for Challenge and Appeal.

    7. Charges for Time
      1. Failure to charge fees in situations where the fees would be equal to or greater than $50.00, or in situations where more than two hours of work is necessary to respond to a FOIA request, would result in unreasonably high costs to WMU.

      2. Therefore, if the request will result in fees equal to or greater than $50.00, the requestor must provide a fee deposit of up to 50% of the estimated costs of fulfilling the request before WMU will process the request.

    8. Fee reductions or waivers
      1. WMU may waive or reduce fees if it determines that a waiver or reduction is in the public interest. WMU may consider a request to be in the public interest if the purpose of the request primarily benefits the general public.

      2. WMU may reduce or waive fees if the requestor can prove that they are receiving public assistance, indigent, or if the request is made by a statutorily specified non-profit organization.

    9. Multiple Requests on the same topic/from the same requestor
      1. WMU will treat multiple FOIA requests on the same topic(s), regarding the same record keeper(s), and/or from the same person as one FOIA request for purposes of determining fees.

      2. Requestors who have not paid the final fee for processing an earlier request, must provide 100% of estimated fees before WMU will process any subsequent request.

      3. The University may deny multiple, excessive FOIA requests on the same topic(s), regarding the same record keeper(s), and/or from the same person if they cause unreasonable interference with the discharge of University functions.

    10. Appeals
      1. If WMU denies a request in whole or in part, the requestor may appeal that decision.

      2. All appeals shall go to the University President.

      3. The requestor must follow all appeal procedures set forth by the University.

    11. Excessive and Unreasonable Interference

      If WMU, in its sole discretion, determines that a specific FOIA request or requests create or result in an excessive and unreasonable interference with the discharge of University functions, it will deny the request(s).

    12. Implementation

      This Policy is implemented through the Procedures and Guidelines set out on the WMU FOIA webpage.

  5. Accountability

    Failure to follow this Policy and any associated procedures will result in FOIA requests being denied and may lead to restrictions on number and scope of future FOIA requests.

  6. Related Procedures and Guidelines

    Procedures and Guidelines for FOIA Requests to WMU

  7. Additional Information

    The MI FOIA Statute is separate and distinct from the Federal FOIA Statute. WMU is required to comply with the Michigan statute. Therefore, this policy and guidelines may differ from what requestors who are familiar with the Federal FOIA Statute are accustomed.

    Requests for access to student records, should be submitted to the Registrar’s Office as FERPA requests.

    Employee requests for a copy of their own record, should be submitted to Human Resources as a Bullard-Plawecki request.

    Requests for information under the Public Employment Relations Act (PERA) should be submitted to Human Resources.

  8. FAQs

    1. What should I do if I receive a FOIA request?

      Answer:  Do not respond to the request. Forward it to the FOIA Office or Officer using the above contact information.

    2. What types of records are exempted under FOIA?

      AnswerSee MCL 15.243.

    3. Are faculty records considered Public Records?

      Answer:  It depends. If the record fits into one of the exemptions listed above, they are not considered “public,” and will not be released.

      The most common exemptions for faculty records are: 1) FERPA-protected records; 2) test questions and answers, scoring keys, and other examination instruments or data used to administer an academic examination; and 3) communications and notes that are advisory, cover other than purely factual materials, and are preliminary to a final determination of policy or action.

    4. May I prevent the disclosure of my personnel record?

      Answer:  No. As a public institution, the University is required to disclose all non-exempt public records. However, you are encouraged to work closely with OGC to help them identify and understand the nature of your records so they may better evaluate whether an exemption applies.

    5. Will individuals receive notice that I am requesting records about them?

      Answer:  Generally, yes. There may be some fact-specific exceptions.

      Under the AAUP contract, the University must inform bargaining unit members both upon receipt of a FOIA request for their records and upon disclosure of such records (if any).

    6. Will FERPA-protected records be disclosed pursuant to a FOIA request?

      Answer:  No. FOIA includes an explicit exemption for FERPA-protected records.

    7. Are my e-mails subject to disclosure in response to a FOIA request?

      Answer:  Probably.  Any e-mails that are on the University’s e-mail system or in your personal account and that pertain to an official University function or position are subject to retrieval and review for FOIA purposes. However, only those e-mails that do not fit under another exemption, will be released.


Effective date of current versionJune 15, 2021
Date first adoptedJune 13, 2008
Revision history
Wednesday, May 26, 2021 - 15:08 Revised to put in updated template; consolidated policy statements from other locations into one University Policy; separate out procedures.

Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 15:41 Revised
Proposed date of next reviewMay 24, 2024


Certified by

Jessica M. Swartz

FOIA Officer

At the direction of

Carrick D. Craig

General Counsel