Would you please convey to the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Student Records the following policy statement, to be considered as a replacement for the Draft Policy (as of 6 March, 2004) version 2 listed on the UO Senate web page. The proposed draft, which largely retains the language of version 2, is accompanied by my rationale for the changes.
Proposed Policy Statement on the privacy of Student Records
The University of Oregon community regards the privacy of student records as a central and serious part of its academic mission. Privacy is an integral part of the academic freedom that is at the heart of the function of the modern university. Students, faculty and staff should be aware that the University supports their freedom to inquire, discuss and experiment with ideas without fear of improper government intrusion or public exposure. Though we are supported by taxpayer funds, our mission, as set out by our legal charter, centers on our autonomy as an academic institution governed by academic norms; and we conceive that mission as including educating the larger community in the importance of academic freedom.
As a community, the university is concerned that, during times of emergency, outside bodies may overstep U.S. Constitutional restrictions by requesting, beyond their legitimate needs, information about university students, faculty and personnel. Under the present laws, such transgressions are difficult to expose and, hence, to safeguard against. The University seeks to insure, however, that compliance with requests for personal information is no broader than required by law. To this end, members of the faculty and the staff, in particular, should be aware that non-disclosure of student information in response to outside inquiry by law-enforcement or investigative agencies is the norm on this campus, as stated in OAR571-020. Faculty and staff confronted with outside demands for information by law-enforcement or investigative agencies should exercise their right to consult with the general counsel's office before complying with any request for information. Compliance with requests for information must be limited to requests deemed legitimate by the general counsel's office. Faculty or staff members faced with questions of conscience may relinquish to the general counsel the responsibility of complying with lawful requests for disclosure.
Comments: "While privacy issues are governed by both state and federal law, the University's interest in privacy goes far beyond its commitment to comply with law." --This sentence appears redundant.
"centers around" -- replace with "centers on"
"The current state of crisis . . ." -- "current" as written in a policy statement will soon be meaningless.
In the second paragraph I aimed at eliminating ambiguities, e.g.,
"Faculty and staff . . . . should be aware that the University and its general counsel, in particular, are available to them" -- the meaning of "the University" is unclear in this context --
"and that our expectation is that . . ." -- whose expectation??--
" As head of the University, the president . . . will be involved with the general counsel's office in formulating policies governing such requests" --wasn't this document supposed to be the policy?
"and, to the extent permitted by law, in evaluating individual requests." --Since the present law and proposed UO policy appears to permit involvement by the President only in cases where his involvement is not needed, this statement is confusing and best left out.
The last sentence of the proposed draft summarizes, I believe, the intent of the last paragraph of version2.
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