It’s spring break; the weather is great and half of Oregon is on vacation (since apparently every school in the state has the same break). The University of Oregon seems to be celebrating by getting rid of staff that either release records OR object to the release of records.
The R-G reports that the UO has apparently not only rid itself of the archivists who released records from the presidential archives to a UO professor who requested them, but also this break week fired one of the school’s counseling center employees who “letter criticizing the university for accessing an 18-year-old student’s therapy records.”
According to the R-G in the case of the archivsts and the document release:
The document trove — which the university eventually recovered — contained emails, reports and other papers of four former presidents, university sources said.That would be the records of Michael Gottfredson, who resigned in August; Bob Berdahl, who served as interim president; Richard Lariviere, who was fired in 2011; and the late Dave Frohnmayer, who retired in 2009.Citing the confidentiality of personnel decisions, Klinger declined to elaborate on the archivists’ departure from their jobs.The archivists, James Fox and Kira Homo, could not be reached for comment. They have been on administrative leave since the administration discovered the release of the documents.
Meanwhile, the therapist announced her dismissal via email, the R-G writes:
Karen Stokes, former executive assistant to the director of the counseling center, announced her dismissal in an e-mail broadcast to counseling center staff today.Stokes and senior staff therapist Jennifer Morlok alleged in February that the university interfered with the student’s care and took the student’s private medical records — to prepare for litigation — without the student’s permission.In Thursday’s e-mail, Stokes wrote: “I am disappointed that the UO has chosen this course of action. I, along with Jenny, had hoped that our letter of concern regarding the medical records that we believe were unethically and illegally disclosed would promote positive changes.“Instead of taking our concerns to heart and recognizing the courage it took to come forward with such concerns, the UO appears to be more concerned about defending itself and attacking those who brought the ethical and legal concerns to light,” Stokes wrote.
No updates on any of this on the UO’s media relations page. However, Economics Prof. Bill Harbaugh, who was the faculty member who requested the presidential records has some updates on his UOMatters.com site, as well as his letter to the library committee on the issue:
Subject: “The Incident”From: Bill HarbaughDate: March 18, 2015 at 12:18:48 AM EDTTo: Adriene Lim <firstname.lastname@example.org>Dear Dean Lim, Associate Dean Bonamici, and members of the Library Committee –Thank you for allowing me to attend your meeting today.At the meeting Andrew Bonamici said that, in the interests of balancing confidentiality and public access, and the impossibility of inspecting every document individually, that the UO archives had policies or procedures for allowing researchers access to files and folders from the archives that had not been fully reviewed for confidentiality. This access was conditional on researchers agreeing not to make confidential documents public. (This is not verbatim, it’s my recollection of the gist of what Andrew said.)I don’t know what you’ve been told about how I got the digital Presidential Archives, but there was nothing nefarious about it. I sent the special collections reference desk a request for information on how to access the digital archives. I was told that the digital archives might contain confidential documents protected by FERPA or other laws, and that if I agreed not to release those documents, I should send in a usb key and I would get the archives.[Here’s the disclaimer language: Archival material may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws and other regulations.Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g. a cause of action for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual’s private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Oregon assumes no responsibility.]I agreed to this condition. I sent in the usb key. I got the documents back. I kept the confidential documents confidential, as I had promised.It strikes me that this is exactly the procedure that Andrew explained today should have been followed by the archives. It was followed.So, what is this controversy all about? I only posted two documents. No one has made a credible case for either being confidential. One, of course, was very embarrassing to the General Counsel’s office, and, in my opinion, that’s why the UO administration went after me, and the archivists.Bill HarbaughUO Prof of Economics