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December 08, 2011 - Image 1

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-12-08

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(l'NE 1I4 H NDRE)F NY-TW \ SE t 1F IOIAIII EEIOM

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Thursday, December 8, 2011

michigandaily.com

SPECIAL REPORT
'U' charges high fees for public records

Legal experts say
costs meant to
deter media from
getting information
By STEPHANIE STEINBERG
Editor in Chief
Under Michigan's Freedom of
Information Act, a public body
like the University may give
* requested records to the media
at no cost or a reduced charge if
the information benefits the gen-
eral public. Yet several records
requests from The Michigan
Daily to the University's FOIA
Office have resulted in fees of
hundreds - and sometimes
thousands - of dollars to obtain
records to be used in news arti-
cles that benefit the public.
The requests included
information about University
employees who use purchas-
ing cards, or PCards, to pay for
University-related expenses and
information regarding number
of parking tickets given each day
for one year by the University's
Department of Public safety.
The FOIA Office responded that
PCard information would cost

thousands of dollars - no defini-
tive amount was named - and
the parking ticket information
would total $1,240. But when
the Daily requested similar data
from other Big Ten universities,
the majority of schools sent the
data free of charge.
When a university charges
thousands of dollars to retrieve
a public records request, it raises
questions about how the school
is managing its information,
says Frank LoMonte, executive
director of the Student Press
Law Center - a non-profit that
advocates for student journal-
ists' First Amendment rights.
"When we see these jackpot
prices quoted ... either the school
just doesn't want the records
seeing the light of day, or the
school's record-keeping is a
disaster," LoMonte said.
Chief FOIA Officer Lee Doyle
and FOIA Coordinator Pat Sell-
inger have run the University's
FOIA Office, located in the Flem-
ing Administration Building,
since 2004. Sellinger's full-time
job includes responding to FOIA
requests within five business
days as required by law. Doyle,
who also serves as the Univer-
sity's director of communica-
tions administration and policy,

dedicates about a quarter of her to a 2010 FOIA Office report. under the Michigan Freedom of University is a public body, the
time helping Sellinger devise of the 436 requests received in Information Act. Nine percent, FOIA Office plays an important
cost estimates for FOIA requests 2010, the office granted 45 per- or 41 requests, were withdrawn role in ensuring the University's
and hunting down information. cent in full, 35 percent in part after the requester didn't pay a spending and decision-making
Since 2007, the FOIA Office and denied 11 percent - either deposit fee. remain transparent.
has received more than 400 because the record didn't exist In an interview Tuesday, "The whole ethos of the Uni-
requests each year, according or the information was exempt Doyle explained that since the See RECORDS, Page 5A

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M

UNIVERSITY ACADEMICS
LSA offers Philosophy,
Politics, Econ. major

Interdisciplinary
concentration
to be offered
next semester
By KATIE BURKE
Daily StaffReporter
For LSA students who can't
decide on one concentration, a
new interdisciplinary concen-
tration focused on global issues

might be the right fit.
LSA is introducing a new
concentration next semester
within the Department of Phi-
losophy entitled Philosophy,
Politics, and Economics, which
will involve collaborative
efforts from the thre'e depart-
ments.
Requirements for the con-
centration include a combi-
nation of formal reasoning
courses such as statistics, nor-
mative theory and political
economy. Students will also be

required to choose a concentra-
tion theme like global justice or
modern immigration patterns.
The prerequisites for the
concentration include intro-
ductory classes in philosophy,
political science, economics
and calculus. To declare, stu-
dents must apply with a tran-
script and aone-page statement
about their interest in the pro-
gram.
Elizabeth Anderson, direc-
tor of the new PPE con-
See MAJOR, Page 5A

UNIVERSITY RESEARCH
Study: Fewer teenagers
obtaining driver's licenses

Chrome Sparks plays at the Work Gallery on State Street in a free show put on by WCBN last night.
STUDENT AWARD
U' student wins You"ube food challenge

Tasha Edwards
winner of
YouTube's Next
Chef Competition
By PAIGE PEARCY
Daily StaffReporter
In her apartment kitchen,
School of Public Health stu-
dent Tasha Edwards explains in
front of the camera how to make
her latest dish, vegan macaroni
cheese. Fortunately for viewers,
it only takes a click of the replay

button to see any steps they may
have missed in the recipe for
Edwards's "Sweet V's."
Edwards is the creator of the
Sweetest Vegan cooking chan-
nel on YouTube and the winner
of YouTube's Next Chef Compe-
tition.
"It was kind of surreal, like
most big things that happen
in your life," Edwards said. "I
had a feeling that I had a wor-
thy enough channel to win, but
you kind of never know ... it was
rewarding."
Edwards's channel, along
with 14 other YouTube cooking
channels, was named a finalist

in the competition last month.
YouTube users from the United
States, United Kingdom, New
Zealand, Australia, Ireland,
Canada, India and South Africa
submitted their channels to be
judged on the ability to attract
a large audience and originality.
After winning the com-
petition in early November,
Edwards participated in Google
Plus Hangouts, which allow
video communication sessions
between users, with YouTube
employees to learn how to
improve her videos. She also
received advertising and new
See CHALLENGE, Page 2A

New study shows
percentage of older
drivers on the rise
By CHELSEA LANDRY
Daily StaffReporter
High school driver's educa-
tion classes may be becoming
less popular, as fewer teenag-
ers are eager to get behind the
wheel, according to a recent
University study.
Michael Sivak and Brandon
Schoettle, researchers at the
University's Transportation
Research Institute, published a
report last week in the journal
Traffic Injury Prevention indi-
cating that fewer teenagers are
obtaining their driver's licens-

es, while more elderly Ameri-
cans are continuing to drive. In
1983, a third of all U.S. drivers
were under the age of 30. But
today, only22 percent of drivers
fall into this category, according
to the study.
Sivak wrote in an e-mail
interview that a major reason
for the trend is the shift toward
electronic communication
among Amefica's youth, reduc-
ing the need for "actual contact
amongyoung people."
Time spent driving detracts
from time spent texting, Sivak
wrote, especially with various
laws in many states that ban
texting while driving. Michi-
gan was the 28th state to ban
texting while drivingwith alaw
that took effect in July 2010.
See DRIVERS, Page SA

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INDEX AP NEW S ....................3A ARTS ..................6A
Vol. CXXII, No.64 OPINION.....................4A SPORTS.... . . ......7A
Q201 The Michigan Daily NEWS........................ SA THE BSIDE............. 1B
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