AG Rosenblum avoids direct reference to Shelly Kerr and Doug Park, in endorsing bill to keep counseling records private

4/4/2015 update: Shelly Kerr is the UO Counseling Center Director who handed over Jane Doe’s counseling records, at the request of Interim UO GC Doug Park. New legislation would make that illegal. Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum on the RG Op-Ed page:

We like to think of college as a wonderful time of growth and learning. The reality in Oregon, however, is that college can be a very dangerous period for too many young women.

Recent events have given our students a good reason to worry that when they have been sexually assaulted and want to have the benefit of victims’ support and counseling services, they cannot trust their college to protect their privacy. That is because Oregon is one of only 10 states without confidentiality protections for victims seeking services from domestic violence or sexual assault advocates.

It is time for Oregon to step forward and ensure the privacy of victims’ communications and records. We know that many students who have been sexually assaulted are choosing not to seek critically needed help. Studies indicate that the primary reason victims of sexual assault do not come forward is that they fear disclosure of extremely private and potentially embarrassing information — without their consent. All too often, this fear is justified. …

4/3/2015 update: Students rally in support of Karen Stokes and transparency

Ally Brayton has the story in the Emerald here, and Diane Dietz has more in the RG here:

Dozens of University of Oregon students rallied at noon Friday in support of a counseling center employee who says she was fired because she was a whistleblower.

Karen Stokes, who was executive assistant to the director of the counseling center, announced she had been terminated in a March 26 e-mail sent to counseling center staff.

The reason, she said in the e-mail, was her public criticism of the university’s “unethical” collection of a student’s therapy records in preparation for litigation.

A UO spokesman said a week ago that Stokes wasn’t fired but merely “transitioning.”

On Friday, spokeswoman Julie Brown said Stokes is still in the university’s employ, but Brown couldn’t say in what position or capacity or whether her job was permanent or temporary. …

3/26/2015 update: It’s looking more and more like the story goes like this: UCTC Director Shelly Kerr told Karen Stokes she was fired. Stokes wrote the email in the RG story and sent it to the UCTC staff and the RG. Klinger was out of the loop, perhaps because he just was, perhaps because the admins don’t trust his judgement after his disastrous press release on the archivists. Someone in JH read the post on my blog or the RG website. They quickly told Kerr to back off, told Stokes they’d find her a job somewhere else at UO if she’d stop talking to reporters, and told Klinger to feed this to the press, pronto.

Update: The RG story has now been updated with a challenge from Duck Advocate and Presidential Spokesperson Tobin Klinger of Ms Stokes’s description of events. Purely coincidental, Klinger seems to think. Of course Klinger also thought UO wasn’t filing a counterclaim against the survivor of the alleged basketball gang rape – or at least that’s what he told reporters.

Meanwhile, Saul Hubbard of the RG reports that the Oregon House is considering a law that would make a repeat of Doug Park’s seizure of UO student counseling records illegal:

The bill also would prevent an aspect of the UO case that has troubled many members of the campus community and outside observers: the administration accessing the victimized student’s confidential therapy records at the UO’s Counseling and Testing Center as she was preparing to file her lawsuit against the school.

After a staff therapist revealed the administration’s action and a barrage of criticism ensued, UO officials returned the records last week. They claimed they had accessed the records in response to the student’s lawyer seeking potentially relevant documents to the case, and that no one in the university’s general counsel office had actually reviewed them.

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 3.25.19 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 3.26.14 PM
Interim President Scott Coltrane Interim Provost Frances Bronet

3/26/2015: Rumor has it that they’ve now fired at least one of the counseling center employees who objected to UCTC Director Shelly Kerr’s decision to hand over “Jane Doe’s” confidential counseling records to the UO General Counsel’s office.

Now confirmed, by Diane Dietz in the RG here. Ms Stokes’s special crime? Telling the truth:

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.

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31 Responses to AG Rosenblum avoids direct reference to Shelly Kerr and Doug Park, in endorsing bill to keep counseling records private

  1. it gets bigger says:

    did you get your notice yet, Bill?

    • uomatters says:

      We’re still negotiating – I’m holding out for a full Gott, but they say not a penny more than $470K.

  2. Ben says:

    Do they have any protection against whistleblower retaliation, or are they stuck since the problem was moral, not ethical?

    Any union recourse possible here?

  3. Around the Oops says:

    Don’t sign the non-compete clause regarding Around the Oops, Bill.

  4. Working GTF says:

    Hell, this isn’t even good brand management. There’s no angle from which this makes the least bit of sense. It’s cruel, vindictive and almost sure to bring at the least national, public outcry and at the worst a wrongful termination suit or yet another civil rights suit.

    • Anonymous2 says:

      Working GTF–

      This is a private personnel matter, and I don’t think we have the facts on which to conclude that this was “cruel and vindictive.” Those facts may come out in a suit, but I don’t see much value in pure speculation.

  5. Ben says:

    Considering the terminated employee made details public, both personally and to a reporter, just how do you reach a conclusion that it is private? Perhaps because UO wishes it we so?

  6. Furious Worker says:

    Does Tobin really expect us to believe that someone mistakenly believed that they were fired? Why would someone lie about being fired?

  7. I'm not an economist says:

    …but when is Phil’s infusion of $$ to create a brand no longer sufficient to protect the university (the brand) from the continuous bad press regarding very stupid and often scary management?

    • Anonymous says:

      The funds for promoting the UO’s academics and the branding iinitiative are.from other donors, not Phil. Mainly Trustee Connie Balmer.

  8. Hans Gruber says:

    You’ve got to ask yourself how Coltrane and Bronet will spend the last day of their Spring Break, pepper spraying meningitis patients? maybe a trip down to Olum to kick children?

    • uomatters says:

      With points for humor this comes in just over e, and therefore I can’t delete it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    And let’s see where the whole communication review that we all forgot happened over spring break goes too. I highly doubt they are looking at their own offices— get ready for centralization nation. Dean’s beware! We communicate for you now!

    • uomatters says:

      I haven’t forgotten. But please, save me some trouble making PR requests to Hubin – if you know something, say something!

      • The JH plan says:

        Yes, communications/marketing is going to be centralized and also largely outsourced. 160/90 was mainly because no one on the inside was up to the challenge. They actually had to do extra work because UO couldn’t keep up on a collaboration. Ballmer is willing to pay for something better than what UO can do.

        Departmental HR and most of the day to day functions are going to be centralized, no more fiefdoms. Battles still ongoing which tech solutions will go campus wide.

        JH Talk that Moffitt is going to have her kingdom split up so she can focus on numbers, she is responsible for too much to be effective at all of it. Still not determined what, but she’ll probably keep UOPD and budgets, and lose AA and HR. Possibly more admin bloat to handle it all.

        Robin’s nest is going to keep growing, she’s been effective in getting dollars flowing and influencing ASUO elections and votes. Buildings are getting built for admin and students are paying from fee money, best case scenario.

        Shelton has been largely able to fend off attacks on his budget model, it looks like we’re stuck with it for at least another couple of years. More centralized money, less discretionary for departments.

  10. Underemployed Lawyer says:

    Oregon has strong common law and statutory protections for those whose employers retaliate against them for reporting illegal activity. A good faith belief that the activity reported is unlawful sufficient. Given the comments that were circulated immediately after the admin’s accessing of the student’s counseling records, I’d say she has an arguable case.

    • decisions made says:

      except that JH and the BOT will spend whatever tuition money is needed to squash any challenges to their fiefdom…..maybe a good scenario for lawyers but likely an embarrassing waste of time and money for the resigned faculty and staff….

  11. Gregor Samsa says:

    It seems that the folks at Johnson Hall aspire to be evil geniuses, but they only meet half of the qualifications.

  12. SaveUofO says:

    What is UofO up to now? 5 lawsuits maybe 6 that we know of? The current JH admin is out of control. This is what happens when you have a group of people who give themselves raises and rarely come out of their offices to see what is actually happening on campus.

    Dear JH, you are 100% out of touch with basic leadership principles and reality. This institution is the people who go to school and work here, not just you. Do you people in JH have any concept of how far a simple “sorry” or “we screwed up” will go? Or how about a thank you when someone brings a concern to the table? Betraying your employees and students in the name of liability and business will not garner you loyalty.

    Sounds like Karen Stokes was doing her duty and it looks like her diligence and concern earned her noting less than the wrath of an administration that is so clearly out of control and making poor decisions one must wonder how in the hell they cannot see it themselves!

    We can only hope for a thorough and complete house cleaning of JH. We must rid ourselves of the kooks running amok at the cost of our students, employees and community. Perhaps a new plaque should adorn the steps of JH “Built on the backs of studetns and employees. Thanks for the money”

  13. Old Grey Mare says:

    Omnia vincit pecunia, et nos cedamus pecuniae.

    Really botches the meter.