Can the UO Senate save the General Counsel’s office from itself?

10/1/2015 update: The Senate website includes a proposal for a new UO policy on keeping student counseling records private. This presumably comes from the committee that interim Provost Frances Bronet appointed last spring, after she’d ordered the GC to return Jane Doe’s files: http://senate.uoregon.edu/sites/senate.uoregon.edu/files/Appendix%20B%20-%20Recommendation%20for%20the%20University%20of%20Oregon%27s%20policy%20on%20the%20confidentiality%20of%20health%20care%20and%20survivors%20services%20information.pdf

9/30/2015:  Students who have been sexually assaulted often seek out mental health counseling. It’s hard to imagine anything more obviously confidential than the resulting treatment records.

But while Jane Doe, the survivor of an alleged gang rape by 3 Duck basketball players, was in negotiations with the university’s lawyers over a settlement, Interim General Counsel Doug Park and Associate GC Sam Hill asked UO counseling center Director Shelly Kerr to give them Doe’s records.

Kerr turned them over to the GC’s office, which took them out of the sealed envelopes, scanned them into pdfs, and resealed them. Without looking at them for ammo to use in the negotiations with Jane Doe’s lawyers – honest.

As it happens the Oregon board that licenses psychologists has a thing about confidentiality, Shelly Kerr is licensed, and now the board wants to fine her $5K. Seems cheap, but UO’s General Counsel wants to fight it, because if they don’t it’s obvious that they screwed up by telling Kerr to give them the records. As if everyone in the state doesn’t already understand what a train wreck UO’s General Counsel’s office is, thanks to the Oregonian’s editorial page, and the latest allegations about their involvement in the UOPD whistleblowing retaliation.

Someone needs to save UO from this self-inflicted damage. And it looks like it’s going to be the UO Senate, which has now posted an exhaustive report on the issues, here: http://senate.uoregon.edu/content/confidentiality-students-counseling-records

Will the UO administration really let the GC’s office fight this to the bitter end, as it fought the Senate’s “Not in Our Name” efforts to drop the countersuit against Jane Doe?

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