An Open Letter to President Fritz Erickson

North Wind Staff

Dear President Fritz Erickson,

We are writing to ask that the point of contact regarding Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests be NMU’s FOIA officer, Vice President Gavin Leach, or you, as the FOIA Appeals Officer. Recently, Leach appointed Derek Hall, Vice President of Identity, Brand and Marketing, as his FOIA designee. We see a major conflict of interest in having the person responsible for the university’s public image and brand as also being responsible for communicating information to The North Wind that might be detrimental to that image.

This conflict was apparent last week when minutes after Hall provided requested public documents to the North Wind — at the last possible moment according to FOIA deadlines — he sent out a press release that apparently tried to define the documents to the entire NMU staff and faculty before the newspaper even had a chance to write its story. Hall was trying usurp the newspaper and its story. Hall was not acting impartially but in his own self interest and that impugns the integrity of the information provided.

Not only is Leach the appropriate individual to be consulted, given his appointment, Hall’s commentary and interaction regarding FOIA requests poses a problem for the completeness and credibility of the information provided. Hall’s job is to spin the information in a positive light. We at The North Wind are interested in the most accurate and factual information and not information couched in the university’s point of view.

The North Wind editors respectfully request that Leach speak on all FOIA related issues henceforth. The North Wind will continue its professional relationship with Hall for issues regarding Identity, Brand and Marketing or when he is the most relevant official regarding article topics. However, for FOIA related issues, and issues of public documents, editors and staff wish to speak directly to Leach and request he speaks directly to us.


The North Wind Editorial Staff