Counseling Center Director Kerr exposes student records because she cares

Article by Pulitzer Prize-winning Oregonian journalist Rich Read, here. The State Legislature is doing its best to clean up the mess created by the UO General Counsel’s office and Counseling Center Director Shelly Kerr when she gave Jane Doe’s counseling reports to the GC:

A lawmaker who led the Oregon Senate to a unanimous vote better protecting sexual-assault victims said Thursday she’s not done making the University of Oregon and other institutions boost patient confidentiality.

Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, said she’d work next session to strengthen privacy provisions at institutions such as UO, where the campus counseling center recently weakened its confidentiality guarantees without public notice. Gelser amended the bill before passage Wednesday to tighten requirements in response to an April 8 story by The Oregonian/OregonLive, which reported that the center had quietly diluted privacy safeguards.

Students across the nation have grown leery of campus counseling clinics after the UO center gave lawyers confidential therapy records of a student who was allegedly gang-raped March 9, 2014, by three university basketball players. The unidentified woman has sued the university and men’s basketball coach Dana Altman. The three players were never criminally charged.

There’s still no word on what Doug Park’s office has done to ensure the confidentiality of their electronic copies of the counseling records. I suggest returning them to Jane Doe’s lawyer on a “zip drive”.

Kerr told the Oregonian that she decides on the confidentiality of student records on the basis of “public relations” and the “political landscape”, and then takes the fall for Frances Bronet, blaming her mistakes on her own excessive focus on the students. Really.

“We were on trains on seemingly parallel tracks that suddenly managed to crash into each other,” Kerr said. “That’s my fault.”

“I was focused on the students, and had I looked at the political and PR landscape, I probably would have paused and asked some additional questions,” Kerr said.

Kerr worked with her assistant director and a university lawyer to revise her clinic’s “Confidentiality and Privacy Policy.” She said: “It ended up undermining and seeming to be at odds with the provost, even though that was never what we intended to do.”

Kerr also said that despite its title, the new statement is “not really a policy.” Instead it’s a description of the clinic’s practice, she said.

Does Kerr, who is in charge of a center training graduate students at UO and interns from Ph.D. programs at other universities who come for training, hold special seminars to help future psychologists learn how to integrate “public relations” into their counseling duties? Do GTFs at the University of Oregon receive an education that is unavailable at other universities, on how the handling of the confidential records of patients can be used to respond to the “political landscape” of the institution the future psychologists will be working for?

A search of the UO course catalog has failed to turn up any seminar at the University Counseling and Testing Center titled “Public Relations for Shrinks” or “Patient Records and Politics.” Perhaps a joint degree between the Department of Political Science and the Counseling Center could be offered — Politics and Psychology.

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5 Responses to Counseling Center Director Kerr exposes student records because she cares

  1. Eugenenative says:

    If I were a UO student in need of confidential counseling why in the world would I go the Counseling Center for it? Confidential counseling clearly is not available.

  2. Brittney says:

    You pretty majorly misquoted Kerr. Her separate quotes are:
    “We were on trains on seemingly parallel tracks that suddenly managed to crash into each other,” Kerr said. “That’s my fault.”

    “I was focused on the students, and had I looked at the political and PR landscape, I probably would have paused and asked some additional questions,” Kerr said.

    What you posted is:
    “I spent more of the time looking at the public relations and the political landscape and hadn’t seen how our train was going to cross tracks and crash into the provost’s,” Kerr said. “That’s my fault.”

    You seem to have purposefully combined a couple of quotes in order to completely change what she was saying.

    • uomatters says:

      Thanks, I’ve edited this to include exactly what Read said Kerr said.

      • Hart says:

        But that doesn’t solve the misrepresentation of what it meant, which is kind of the point you were making.

        If this quote is accurate, she is saying she DID NOT look at politics and PR, but you frame this as her saying she DID, and then you ask whether she teaches all her grad students to consider politics in their practices, which, since she’s saying she failed to consider that, that’s why the confusing mess of Bronet saying one thing and the website going the other way.

        I think maybe this post had a flawed premise (which, hey, we all sometimes misread. I’m not prepared to suggest it was on purpose or that you’re looking for things to be mad about or anything, just that if your initial reading elided something in a way that changed the whole thing, then it would be easy for the whole post you made to be cattywampus as a result). Maybe it’d be good to reframe the whole thing based on this.

        Or not. Your post, your call.

        • One quote was changed in the article -- another quote stayed the same says:

          Read changed that Kerr quote about the political landscape. in the article. In the early morning it had one quote. Later in the day it had a different one.

          In morning:
          “I spent more of the time looking at the public relations and the political landscape and hadn’t seen how our train was going to cross tracks and crash into the provost’s,” Kerr said.

          Later in day:
          “We were on trains on seemingly parallel tracks that suddenly managed to crash into each other,” Kerr said. “That’s my fault.”
          “I was focused on the students, and had I looked at the political and PR landscape, I probably would have paused and asked some additional questions,” Kerr said.

          What did not change:
          Kerr worked with her assistant director and a university lawyer to revise her clinic’s “Confidentiality and Privacy Policy.” She said: “It ended up undermining and seeming to be at odds with the provost, even though that was never what we intended to do.”
          Kerr also said that despite its title, the new statement is “not really a policy.” Instead it’s a description of the clinic’s practice, she said.

          So she is saying that the webpage title “Confidentiality and Privacy Policy” is false? It is not really a policy? And so then the old one promising strict confidentiality and called a POLICY was not REALLY a policy? Isn’t this like…um…fraud?

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