By Anthony Gockowski, Campus Reform
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has settled a lawsuit against the University of Michigan after the school finally agreed to release emails exposing President Mark Schlissel’s anti-Trump sentiments.
As Campus Reform reported in March, the university was sued by the Mackinac Center for repeatedly failing to release internal correspondences related to Donald Trump’s election.
After missing several self-imposed deadlines, the school finally provided a mere four documents on February 27 and then March 2, more than 100 days after the initial request, even though school officials had disclosed that the request would take only three hours to fulfill.
The Mackinac Center announced Wednesday that it had reached a settlement with the university, resulting in the disclosure of the seven remaining documents subject to the initial Public Records Request filed by then-Michigan Capitol Confidential reporter Derek Draplin.
The newly-released emails show President Schlissel allowed his personal disdain for Trump to influence his public work, even acknowledging in advance that some may interpret an August 2016 speech he was set to deliver to incoming freshmen as “anti-Trump” in nature.
“I realize that some may interpret this as anti-Trump although there is nothing explicit in the remarks. That’s just the way it will have to be,” he wrote in an email to a colleague. “I would feel awful if Trump won the election and I was too afraid of appearing political to make any effort to encourage our students to thoughtfully participate.”
In another post-election email, Schlissel called it “ironic” that Trump supporters felt unwelcome on campus, though he had personally taken part in an on-campus rally two days earlier in which he singled out Trump voters for their “hate and fractiousness.”
“Same low level [sic] rumblings here in AA [Ann Arbor]. An [sic] also some complaints from our minority of Trump supporters who now feel marginalized and ostracized in our campus milieu and post election [sic] activity. Ironic,” he wrote in an email.
As a result of the settlement, the school has also agreed to revise its practices in handling Public Records Requests, hire more staff to fulfill transparency requests, produce an annual compliance report, and strive to complete 75 percent of requests without charging a fee, according to a press release from The Mackinac Center.
“The University of Michigan is a public entity which receives more than $300 million in state funds,” Patrick Wright, vice president of legal affairs at the Mackinac Center, stated in the release. “Taxpayers deserve to know that its leaders are treating students fairly regardless of political beliefs.”
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