From The Rocky Mountain Collegian (Fort Collins): In a democratic society, fair access to information is critical to driving development in industrial and social causes. Citizens and journalists alike require the free and abundant flow of information in order to better understand the world around them and contribute to the greater conversation of societal issues, which makes the occasional efforts to inhibit access to public records both puzzling and frustrating.
According to the Coloradoan, CSU administration is considering a proposal to change the state’s open records policy to limit requests to only Colorado residents.
For an institution that claims to be “setting the standard for public research universities in teaching, research, service and extension for the benefit of the citizens of Colorado, the United States and the world,” attempting to limit public inquiry into their records to only in-state citizens is a curious move that would seem to operate in direct contradiction to this mission. Indeed, in an era where our University looks to expand as state funding for education continues to plunge, CSU should not attempt to limit access to its public records.
There are many problematic aspects of this proposal CSU is considering, but the main issue is that it ignores the nature of the current state of higher education in the U.S. and the duties public institutions have to citizens. Higher education in our country is a topic of national interest, and as costs have risen by as much as 1200 percent in the past 35 years according to some estimates, universities have faced tougher scrutiny over their budgets and allocation of resources.
If CSU were to be successful in limiting inquiry into their records to in-state audiences, they would be deliberately removing themselves from the national audience in the context of the conversation surrounding higher education, which, unless administration has something they’re trying to hide, seems counterproductive and completely unnecessary. There are far more stakeholders at play that benefit from access to University records than just state legislators and paying students. There is plenty of useful information that national audiences and other colleges can gain from greater insight into CSU’s public records that could help improve higher education as a whole.
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