The University of Michigan campus newspaper, Michigan Daily, is investigating a campus scandal that resulted in the athletic director resigning and a football player being expelled for sexual misconduct, but the university has engaged in blatantly illegal destruction of records to stymie the investigation.
The university spokesman, Rick Fitzgerald, has issued a stream of excuses for why UM has failed to live up to its legal obligations for document retention and Freedom of Information requests, effectively claiming that the retention policy can be made up on the fly, and that valid retention policies include "When we get a request for a record, we destroy that record."
Inquiries sent to other local colleges show that Michigan University is an anomaly in its refusal to adhere to the state's FOIA law. The school's "do what thou wilt" retention policy may result in it being fined. State law provides for a $500 fine plus compensatory damages for "arbitrary and capricious violations" of the Act, as well as an additional $1,000 fine and/or two-year prison sentence if it can be proven that University employees willfully destroyed records. Unfortunately, for a university of its size and wealth, these fines clearly aren't much of a deterrent.
Michigan University Claims Its Public Records Retention Period Is Whatever Each Employee Wants It To Be [Tim Cushing/Techdirt]