Libraries, Archives, Technology, Impending Doom
Hey, University of Oregon, is there something going on that we need to talk about? I’ve been seeing your name in the news a lot. Are you ok?
First there was that professor with all those emails from the archives. He sounds like a crack researcher. I understand that he followed all the rules, and that the archivists did their due diligence, too. Thirty-thousand emails is a lot of documents. Haven’t you heard that the road to hell is paved with good intentions?
Ok, yes, perhaps the university administration’s full court press in trying to get the records back has more to do with their own embarrassment and maybe some skeletons in the closet. No, the emails didn’t contain any protected student information. And, yes, open records are very important to accountability. Yes, especially for government institutions such as state universities. It does kind of sound like the administration was up to no good, something about the UO Senate and shared governing powers, I heard. Yes, the ongoing bloat of college and university administrations is practically criminal, and, yes, the proliferation of digital records presents myriad novel problems. Yes, I agree. Stop trying to change the subject.
And then there’s that young woman who was raped on your campus by your own basketball players! I can’t believe that you’d use her therapy records in court against her! I had no idea that was a legal technicality, that her records from the campus counseling center were covered by FERPA as educational records, instead of as medical records under HIPAA. That’s a travesty, and the laws should be changed immediately so this can’t happen again. But that doesn’t make it ok that you’ve abused records in this way. Your own employees are horrified by your actions, and you’ve betrayed your students in a most disgusting manner. Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it ethical. And you’ve set a bad example.
Don’t make excuses. I’m sure a lot of other universities are doing it, too. That doesn’t make it ok, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a records management problem. And there are definitely going to be consequences. But I’m sure the archivist community cares about you and is willing to give you guidance as you pull yourself together.