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The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site - www.ag.state.mi.us)



Opinion No. 6053

April 13, 1982


Student advisory committees making recommendations to university officers being subject to

The Legislature has not required student advisory committees making recommendations to state university officers to be subject to the provisions of the Open Meeting Act.

Honorable Gary L. Randall

State Representative

State Capitol

Lansing, Michigan 48909

You have requested my opinion on the question of whether the student budget review and allocation committee at Central Michigan University must conduct its meetings in accordance with the provisions of the Open Meetings Act, 1976 PA 267; MCLA 15.261 et seq; MSA 4.1800(11) et seq.

The Open Meetings Act, 1976 PA 267, supra, generally requires, subject to limited exceptions, that meetings of public bodies be open to the public. 1976 PA 267, supra, Sec. 2(a) defines a 'public body' as:

'[a]ny state or local legislative or governing body, including a board, commission, committee, subcommittee, authority or council which is empowered by state constitution, statute, charter, ordinance, resolution, or rule to exercise governmental or propriety authority or perform a governmental or proprietary function . . .'

This definition is broad, but the Legislature has not seen fit to include advisory boards or committees to public bodies within its definition. In OAG, 1977-1978, No 5183, p 21, 29 (March 8, 1977), it was concluded that 1976 PA 267, supra, does not apply to bodies which fail to exercise any governmental or proprietary authority or which are purely advisory in nature. The opinion also stated:

'[i]t is my opinion that the Act does not apply to committees and subcommittees of public bodies which are merely advisory or only capable of making 'recommendations concerning the exercise of governmental authority'. These bodies are not legally capable of rendering a 'final decision'. In other words, a subcommittee which can only make recommendations to the public body for final decision is not required to hold its committee meetings in public hearings.' OAG, 1977-1978, No 5183, supra, p 40.

OAG, 1979-1980, No 5505, p 221 (July 3, 1979), concluded that a budget committee advisory to the governing board of a university was not subject to 1976 PA 267, supra.

The function of the student budget review and allocation committee (SBAC) is to gather information, conduct hearings and make recommendations regarding the allocation of university funds to the office of student affairs. The final funding decisions are not made by SBAC, but rather, are made by the vice-president of student affairs.

It should be noted that the university guidelines for the student budget review and allocation committee state:

'30. Budget hearings are open to the public.'

It must be concluded that the advisory committee is not observing the university guidelines.

While we see no valid policy reasons for such an advisory board to meet in private session, it is my opinion that the Legislature has not, by the provisions of 1976 PA 267, supra, required the student budget review and allocation committee to conduct its meetings in public.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General

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