State Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, criticized the UI for what he sees as a pattern of "unresponsiveness" on Freedom of Information Act inquiries from students and journalists, on subjects ranging from utility costs to the retirement of Chief Illiniwek.
At a legislative budget hearing in Springfield, Rose said the UI has dragged out requests by denying them outright, demanding fees or calling them "unduly burdensome."
"Why can't we get these documents?" Rose asked UI President B. Joseph White.
White defended the university's commitment to openness and its record on FOIA requests, but also promised to do better.
"The general principle is, we do our business not only in the open but in the sunshine," he said.
Rose said in one case, UI student Paul Schmitt – elected last week as the new Urbana student trustee – was told his request for correspondence between "officers and agents" of the university and the NCAA was unduly burdensome because it didn't specify what an officer or agent was.
"At best that's a slap in the face to the kid who filed it. At worst you're trying not to disclose something," Rose said.