By Donald W. Meyers | December 30th, 2010
It appears common sense may be making an appearance at Texas A&M. According to the San Antonio Express-News, university officials are going to take a second look at a policy that bans school employees from making records requests in their official capacity — and, as A&M General Counsel Andrew Strong interpreted it, having students make FOI requests as part of their class work.
The brouhaha in the Lone Star State began when a student of journalism instructor Dan Malone, participating in the Light of Day project, asked for crime statistics at the Tarelton campus. Strong assumed the student made the request as a class assignment and declared that a violation of the policy.
The policy bars A&M employees from making public records requests of the university. It was drafted after an employee made “disingenuous” records requests. (Could someone please explain what constitutes a disingenuous records request?)
Now, Strong said the university will work on “clarifying” the policy to ensure that it does not exclude students who are learning about open-records law. This came after 15 organizations — including SPJ — protested the policy.
While clarifying it is a step in the right direction, a better idea would be to abolish it entirely. People should not be deprived of their right to ask for public documents just because of who signs their paychecks.