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UMass Dartmouth Demands $357,400 From Campus Reform to Fulfill a Public Records Request

UMass Dartmouth Demands $357,400 From Campus Reform to Fulfill a Public Records Request

“laughable and absurd!”

Campus Reform made a pretty simple request and the response from the school is beyond parody.

Campus Reform reports:

University charges Campus Reform $357,400 to conduct public record request

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMass Dartmouth) recently requested $357,400 to fulfill a public records request submitted by Campus Reform in late September.

The request sought communication records between just two individuals over the course of 7 months.

“[R]ecords should include email communications from Lori Hendricks, the Director, and Greg Homol, the Fitness Center Director between January 1, 2022 and August 1, 2022,” the request specified.

Ryan Merrill, Director of Strategic Communications and Media Relations at UMass Dartmouth, wrote that the search would take “14,300 hours,” totaling $357,400.

Ken Tashjy, a Campus Reform Higher Education Fellow and lawyer familiar with Massachusetts public record law, calculated that if “UMASS searched and compiled records for 8 hours a day, it would take 1,787.50 days to reach 14,300 hours, or 4.89 years.”

Tashjy called the fee “laughable and absurd!”

“The fact that UMASS claims it will take an estimated 14,300 hours at a cost of $357,400 to ‘search and compile’ records of the electronic communications between two individuals over a 7 month period is laughable and absurd,” Tashjy said.

Campus Reform analysis also reveals that the estimated hours to fulfill the request would not just take years, but that the fee is enough to cover college expenses for several students and is more than 5 times the yearly salary of the average Massachusettsan.

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Comments

A ten minute search of the Outlook server. The admin should be able to do it very easily. FFS

The fee is so high because they don’t want to do it. It’s not an actual estimate, it’s just a middle finger expressed as a number.

If they are sued for it and ordered to comply without the fee, the emails will have been mysteriously deleted.

Isn’t there a state agency to referee public records requests?

    KevinM in reply to lawgrad. | November 3, 2022 at 11:29 am

    Yes – Supervisor of Records working out of the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office. However, it would be a mistake to assume they would provide an unbiased ruling here in the Democratic People’s Republic of Massachusetts.

As a competent computer scientist, I could extract the emails between the two from any reasonable server in under an hour. It might take time to redact the emails, removing FERPA-relevant data. But these two only worked about 1200 hours each over 7 months. How could it take over 10x longer to sanitize their emails? And that estimate assumes their jobs were *only* writing emails to each other. I assume that’s not the case.