The University of Oregon Senate met on Wednesday, Jan. 27, to discuss data security, the code of ethics and diversifying campus.
At 3 p.m. the Knight Library browsing room began to fill with senators and their audience. President Mike Schill and Provost Scott Coltrane attended, seated in the front row. Five minutes later Senate President and chemistry professor Randy Sullivan banged the gavel, calling the meeting to order. Sullivan quickly mentioned that the meeting would definitely end at 5 p.m. since he had his wife’s birthday to get to. The minutes were approved, and the first motion brought to the table.
Colin Koopman, philosophy professor, brought the first motion. The Information Technology security policy needs to be upgraded, he said. In collaboration with several departments across campus and the IT team, Koopman proposed some amendments to three data security policies that had been enacted during Coltrane’s interim presidency. The policy had previously had to be extended, since no new policy was put in place. If it didn’t pass through senate today, there was no backup policy.
Koopman introduced a few of the proposed amendments. The first concerned the reporting of data breaches. Staff, students and faculty have always had a mandatory duty to report data breaches. The clause in particular was amended to protect reporters from the possibility of retaliation by their supervisors. “Employees who identify themselves and make a good faith report of suspected fraud, waste, or abuse are protected from retaliation,” the amendment states. Confidentiality is guaranteed for anyone reporting suspicious data activity.
Senator John Ahlen, a representative for classified workers, asked that the motion be postponed. After discussing with the Service Employees International Union, which represents classifed workers on campus, Ahlen worried that the language in the policies did not protect employees’ confidential emails. There was a specific incident he cited in which a manager gave administration full access to an employee’s email and voicemail for several months. They asked for an official procedure for administration to access employee emails. SEUI withdrew their endorsement of the motion until this procedure is finished.
A question of policy versus procedure, many senators were confused over how the policy being voted on would impact the procedure proposed by SEIU. Eventually the motion to postpone the policy revisions was denied. The policy revisions passed at 3:52, despite eight votes against.
The second motion brought to the senate was a complete revision of the university’s code of ethics. This motion was sponsored by Sullivan, who passed leadership onto another senator while the motion was discussed. Sullivan completely rewrote a new code of ethics and asked that the old one be completely deleted. “The more I looked at the old policy, the more unacceptable I thought it was,” Sullivan said.
Senator Ronald Lovinger, professor of landscape architecture, asked that an environmental responsibility clause be added. He even dictated a potential clause. After reviewing it, Sullivan implied that it may already be covered in the social responsibility section. The amendment was denied when senators decided that additional changes should not be made on the senate floor. The new code of ethics passed unanimously.
Done with motions, the senate opened the floor up for public discussion. Members of the Office of Equity and Inclusion outlined their new framework for increasing diversity on campus. The new plan, named the Inclusion, Diversity, Evaluation, Achievement and Leadership framework, or IDEAL, lists tactics for each department to increase their diversity.
At the end of the meeting Coltrane briefly spoke about the widening gap between student enrollment and staff hiring in certain departments, showing some newly collected interactive data. Robert Kyr, past senate president and music professor, gave an update on the Interinstitutional Faculty Senate, a collaboration between several Oregon universities.
The meeting ended ten minutes early. Minutes and complete policies are available here.