When Universities Defy the Law: Eaton v. UofR

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Why won't the University of Regina comply with the Freedom of Information Act? What are they hiding?

UPDATE (February 28, 2019): 

The University of Regina has filed an application to make the arguments from both sides confidential with no open court date. My lawyer informs me that this will add substantially to our costs, since we now have to go to court first to argue it should be open. He estimates my costs to be between $12,000 - 14,000. I have readjusted my gofundme goal.

Read the Regina Leader Post's coverage 

In November of 2017 I filed a freedom of Information request for my research into the influence of fossil fuel industries on public education.

For each research project involving “oil, gas, coal, carbon capture, climate change, alternative energy and petroleum” between 2006 and 2017, I asked for four pieces of information: the dollar amount of the funding, the funding agency/company awarding the money, the title of the research project and the faculty, department or school that received the funding.

After the University of Regina denied me access to the funding agency/company and the unit receiving the funding I appealed this non-disclosure to Saskatchewan's Information and Privacy Officer, Ronald Kruzeniski.

He issued a final report on Nov. 28, 2018 (view the report here), recommending that the University release all the information I requested. But the UofR has refused to release the information, appealing to academic freedom and arguing that the release of this information would have a "chilling effect" on research.

In fact, academic freedom is meant to protect us when we engage with the public (through our teaching, research and service), not to shield the university from the public.

Fighting this in court is a poor use of the University's scarce resources, especially given that the expert in the legislation has already ruled that the information should be released to the public.

My lawyer informs me that typical appeals of this nature costs between $8-10k. I am seeking help to cover the legal costs of this appeal.

If you  believe in academic freedom and the transparency of Universities, please consider donating. Many thanks for your attention and support,

Emily Eaton
Associate Professor
Department of Geography and Environmental Studies
University of Regina (Treaty 4 territory)

Photo by Brandon Harder/Regina Leader-Post. Used with permission by the Regina Leader-Post.
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Dear supporters,

Thanks so much for your support of freedom of information and the transparency of our public institutions.

I write to let you know that we had to adjourn this case due to unforeseen circumstances. We hope to be back in court sometime this fall. So while the August 29 court date is off, I am not letting the UofR off the hook on this. A slight delay will hopefully result in a convincing win for transparency.

Thanks again for all your contributions and well wishes, it means a lot to me.

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