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Updated 10:30 AM October 8, 2004




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Privacy and access guidelines in SPG revised

The Privacy Oversight Committee, formed last year to examine issues and provide advice regarding the privacy of students, faculty and staff, has completed a revision of the Standard Practice Guide (SPG) policy 601.11.

"I am extremely pleased that the revision of this Standard Practice Guide was the first policy the Privacy Oversight Committee chose to review and update," says Associate Provost James Hilton, who chairs the committee. "I believe the revised policy strikes an appropriate balance between preserving privacy and making sure that the work of a public university remains open and accessible."

The president and provost created the Privacy Oversight Committee in response to recommendations of the Civil Liberties Board of the Senate Assembly. The standing committee is charged with the responsibility of constantly thinking about and examining issues related to the privacy of the University's faculty, staff and students.
Employees are responsible for
organizing their work-related records so they can be located by those with a legitimate need to access them.

The new policy, titled Privacy and the Need to Monitor and Access Records, replaces the 10-year-old SPG 601.11, titled Privacy of Electronic Mail and Computer Files. The new formulation reiterates the University's commitment to respecting the privacy of employees and clarifies that the University may access the files that employees keep on their computers under certain circumstances.

The new policy defines three types of records: business, personal and faculty-owned scholarly work, the latter as they are defined in SPG 601.03-2. More specific definition of the records can be found in the SPG. The University may access or monitor all three types of records when it is necessary to avert hazards or when required by law.

Business records may be accessed when the University has a legitimate business need for the information contained in a record and the employee who controls it is unavailable or unwilling to give access.

Faculty-owned scholarly records and personal records are governed by identical standards. Those records will not be accessed or monitored except when the employee who controls the records is unavailable or unwilling to give access and when it is necessary for the University to determine whether the files contain business records, or when there is reasonable cause to believe the employee engaged in misconduct or used University resources improperly.

The policy states that employees are responsible for organizing their work-related records so they can be located by those with a legitimate need to access them. With regard to personal and scholarly records, the SPG recommends that employees label them clearly and file them in one place as a means of safeguarding against inadvertent or inappropriate access to those records.

Violation of the policy will be considered misconduct, subject to discipline, including possible termination.

Members of the Privacy Oversight Committee are Kitty Bridges, Lee Doyle, Charles Dunlop, Colleen Ebel, William Ensminger, Gloria Hage, Paul Howell, Brenda Johnson, Lynn Johnson, Peggy Norgren, Timothy Richards, Victor Rosenberg, Jonathan Rothman, Patricia Sellinger and Timothy Wood.

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