Marquette Faculty Senate Plots Concealing Information From the Public
Thus when Student Affairs (with the cooperation of the entire Marquette Administration) invited lesbian activist Ronni Sanlo to campus to “consult” (read: “tell Marquette how to placate the campus gay lobby”) her visit was essentially a secret. It was nowhere mentioned on the Marquette website.
A fair number of people were invited to speak with her, but all were either liberal student organizations (the Gay/Straight Alliance, for example), or faculty who were gay, lesbian or “allies.”
We, however, got wind of the event, and outed it here.
Another project of the campus gay lobby is domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian faculty and employees. As this was being considered by a committee of the Academic Senate, we found out about it and outed this campaign too.
Of course, this didn’t make the faculty activists happy. So the issue came up before the University Academic Senate. The following occurred at a faculty council meeting:
I. Chair’s report - Dr. Christine KruegerThis would be laughable, if it did not reflect so badly on Marquette faculty.
- Dr. Krueger provided the members a handout regarding Transparency and Confidentiality in Shared Governance Processes. The Chair read the statement into the record:UAS Chair’s Report: Transparency and Confidentiality in Shared Governance Processes
Many sources of feedback over the past several years have identified timely consultation with faculty in decision making and transparency in UAS business as priorities for improving shared governance. To that end, this year’s UAS has built upon previous practices to enhance communication of UAS and standing committee business to faculty, students and administrators. Actions have included a new UAS website, providing access to UAS agendas, minutes, meeting materials, reports, and other documents, as well as lists of standing committee members and standing committee minutes. In addition, UAS senators and standing committee members have been encouraged to consult with their constituencies and faculty have been invited to communicate their views on upcoming UAS business. These actions have received considerable positive feedback.
These improvements in timely consultation and transparency are surely to be preserved and enhanced. However, in the past semester, UAS business, including committee motions yet to come before the UAS and emails regarding UAS business, have found their way beyond the Marquette community. These actions have raised serious concerns among committee members and faculty generally, which have repeatedly been brought to the attention of the UAS officers. It is clear that such actions impede the work of elected and appointed members of shared governance bodies and erode faculty trust in shared governance. Shared governance bodies need opportunity to discuss, research, and consult with constituents about their business before taking public stands. At present, the UAS does not have policies in place governing the dissemination of UAS documents and communications beyond the Marquette community. I am inviting UAS advice on how to address these very legitimate concerns.
Two considerations should be kept in mind. First, as Provost Pauly has indicated, the privacy of email communications cannot be expected. Second, implicit in the practice of limiting website access for many UAS documents to the Marquette community is the sense that they should not be shared beyond the MU community. UPP 1-28 Information Sensitivity Policy, which provides guidelines for sharing and storing physical and electronic information, states that “In general, the employees and functions responsible for creating or for obtaining information are responsible for determining into which classification the information falls, how it should be stored, and under what circumstances it should be disclosed to third parties or to the public.”
With these considerations in mind, I have the following questions for the UAS:
- Should UAS formulate policy regarding email communication of UAS business?
These might include
- Limiting reproduction of prior email chains
- Avoiding email as a means of disseminating UAS and committee documents in process
- Should UAS and standing committees employ Share Point sites limited to appropriate members for disseminating documents in progress?
- Should UAS provide committees with guidelines for using executive sessions for discussing sensitive topics?
- Should the UAS have stated policy limiting the sharing of documents and committee communications beyond the Marquette community? For example, should there be a policy regarding sharing information beyond the Marquette community which would apply to both UAS/committee members and guests at UAS/committee meetings?
While no policy could prevent someone who had legitimately accessed UAS and committee documents and communications from disseminating them outside the Marquette community, policy would make explicit the imperative that these documents are intended exclusively for members of the Marquette community. Such policy might also include sanctions against those who violate the policy.
Finally, I wish to emphasize that no policy should aim to impede communication with the Marquette community on which the success of shared governance depends. Nor would it restrict Marquette community access to UAS or committee meetings beyond the current option of executive sessions under appropriate circumstances. Nor would it restrict the right of any member of the Marquette community to discuss publicly posted shared governance minutes in public fora.
In addition to discussion in the UAS, I recommend that CAPI be asked to take up these matters and bring recommendations back to the UAS.
- What motivated you to produce this statement?
Chair: Emailed information concerning on-going committee deliberations that were considered private were excerpted and posted on a public blog.
- Are recommendations proposed in this statement binding?
Provost: Yes. FERPA [Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act] designs confidentiality that is binding. The UAS has not discussed this issue, but we do need to think about limits of accessibility to our deliberations or access to information.
Chair: members on other committees are now worried about how they should be conducting their work and deliberations.
- Similar to WikiLeaks, indiscriminate release of information is not necessarily good for Marquette.
- The open invitation to attend UAS meetings indicates that UAS information can be shared.
Chair: According to UPP 1-28, it is up to the UAS to decide what information needs what degree of confidentiality. We need to consider a policy that neither impedes access to information by the Marquette community nor impinges on academic freedom.
- This issue raises red flags for shared governance. What do we mean by “open”? We should err on the side of openness rather than secrecy.
This matter was brought forth after several discussions in committees appeared in public forums. Such a situation negatively impacts the good work conducted by committee members. Dr. Krueger asked the Senators to consider this issue as a deliberative body.
- Any information can be manipulated by taking it out of context and publically shared.
- Suggestion: Committee members cannot forward an email without the sender’s permission. Or, do not use email.
- The Board of Graduate Studies circulates it’s [sic] agenda, implying that meetings are open to faculty. But are the meetings really open?
Vice-Chair: Meetings are open to faculty and administrators, but rarely do visitors attend.
- In its deliberations of this charge, CAPI needs to consider how to protect privacy and transparency.
- Leaks can stifle robust discussion, including oral comments. This is a significant issue particularly for untenured faculty.
The motion was made that:
CAPI take up the matter of confidentiality regarding UAS materials and its subsequent committees.
The motion was seconded.
Vote: 26 - Yes 0 - No 0 - Abstentions The motion carried
What we have here is a lot of rhetoric about “transparency,” while the faculty political activists are plotting to keep what they do secret!
George Orwell, call Dr. Christine Krueger.
Worse than that, they can’t keep secret the fact that they are plotting to keep their machinations secret. You, after all, are reading about them right now.
So what we have here is a combination of bad faith and ineptness. Being worried about leaks of their secret, sensitive discussions, they suggest that e-mail be eliminated, perhaps in favor of the Sharepoint server. Or maybe they mean that material should be distributed in the old way, with printed pages being sent around via campus mail.
But of course, anybody who would forward an e-mail to us would happily download and send a document on Sharepoint. Or indeed, xerox it and send it via campus mail.
Most of the arguments are odd too. For example (quoting the document above):
Shared governance bodies need opportunity to discuss, research, and consult with constituents about their business before taking public stands.But admittedly, most of their “constituents” aren’t going to know what their representatives are doing unless somebody makes these secret deliberations public. And why should they be taking private stands that will, if revealed prove embarrassing if they are so attentive to the people they supposedly represent?
And does transparency “impede the work of elected and appointed members of shared governance bodies and erode faculty trust in shared governance?” Only if “the work” somehow needs to be conducted in secret, behind closed doors. But these folks aren’t planning a military operation. And somehow they interpret “shared governance” as requiring that information not be shared!
And if transparency will “erode trust,” what does that say about the people who claim to deserve the “trust” of other faculty?
It’s also interesting that the politically correct faculty who are always urging gays to “come out” about their homosexuality are so loath to come out of the closet about their own schemes.