Free press group files public records lawsuit against Cal Poly

April 24, 2024

Elizabeth Wilson


Delay, delay, delay.

That seems to be the tactic administrators at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) have taken when it comes to three public records requests filed by Elizabeth Wilson, a student journalist at Mustang News, Cal Poly’s student newspaper.

Elizabeth filed those requests in fall 2022 while researching stories on campus sexual assault, labor violations alleged by Cal Poly student employees, and a former top Cal State administrator’s failure to respond to sexual harassment and other complaints. She still hasn’t received a single document or any reason why they shouldn’t be released.

So today, the First Amendment Coalition is representing Elizabeth in a lawsuit against Cal Poly for multiple violations of the California Public Records Act; violations that we warned them about when we sent a letter back in June 2023.

Nearly half of Elizabeth’s college tenure has passed since her original requests. Since then, she’s won awards for the stories she sought records for—stories she had to report without those documents she requested.

One of the facts Elizabeth found in her reporting was that in 2021, Cal Poly had the highest number of reported sexual assault cases in the 23-campus Cal State system. This is the kind of research and information that is crucial to the safety of students and staff. By delaying and therefore withholding the information Elizabeth sought to report her stories, Cal Poly loses trust and credibility among students, staff, and the broader community.

This case is close to my heart. When I was a student journalist reporting critically on my school’s administration, I faced the delicate balance of reporting on an institution that I also relied upon daily and battled with fears of retaliation. But being a part of the campus paper, and keeping other students and the campus community informed was so rewarding and catalyzed such important policy changes that it lit a fire in me to pursue a legal career fighting for people’s right to know.

Seeing Elizabeth’s fearless, dogged pursuit to hold her university accountable reminds me of the reason I chose this path, and I’m honored to represent her in this case.

Annie Cappetta is a legal fellow with the First Amendment Coalition. The First Amendment Coalition protects and promotes a free press, freedom of expression and the people’s right to know. Nonpartisan and nonprofit, FAC believes that the broadest range of engaged and informed communities is essential to the health of our democracy.


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Cuesta College does the same thing.

You could do a public records request on public records requests! Of course, you won’t get anything back…..

Same thing at Hancock college. Calcoast should do some public records requests for all the colleges in the area starting with the presidents emails, text, and google voice numbers they like to use to hide the fact they are doing public business on their private phones to hide things.

Endless stonewalling indicates that the admin of CalPolySLO has dirty laundry to hide.