Start the school year by asking for your school’s FOIA log

The FOIA is a term for Freedom of Information Act Laws. If you go to a public university or college, your school falls under your state’s public records law. And a nifty exercise is to ask for a list of all public records requests filed for period of time. That means that you can find out what other people request. All public records requests are themselves public records.  The school is supposed to keep a “log” of these requests. So that’s what you should ask for. You can see what a log looks like by Googling a big agency and FOIA Log.

Below, is a section of the FOIA log of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They make them available by month online.

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Use the Student Press Law Center’s Public Records Request letter generator to give you the legal wording for your state’s public records law. It’s a super easy process. You will also want to track down who, in your university, handles public records requests. If you can’t figure that out, send it to the university president.

Make sure you ask for the name of the requestor, the organization the requestor represents, the date of the request, a summary of the request, and the status –whether it was granted, pending or denied.

Any documents your university has already released through a public records request, you should be able to get immediately.


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