Faculty Senate Passes Resolutions on Dial-up Access and Computer Privacy

Posted: October 16, 2001 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

Expressing frustration at the timing of the announced university dial-up Internet access cut-off, at last month’s meeting, members of the Faculty Senate passed a resolution addressed to President Alan Merten urging that the cut-off be postponed until after the current semester ends. Merten declined to revisit the decision and the cut-off took place as scheduled on Oct. 1.

The senate also passed a resolution last month in response to a new state policy issued this summer on the use of state-owned computers and telecommunications equipment. The resolution says the new policy violates the privacy of students and faculty, is a threat to freedom of inquiry and expression, and could compromise intellectual freedom and existing protections of the intellectual property rights of faculty.

The resolution calls for developing an ad hoc committee charged with formulating a counter policy for George Mason that is “tailored to the needs and requirements of institutions of higher learning.” The committee is to be composed of two representatives from the senate, two members appointed by the provost, and two members appointed by Joy Hughes, vice president for Information Technology. Robert Nadeau, English, and Richard Coffinberger, School of Management, were elected senate representatives.

The committee’s deadline for formulating a new policy was set for Nov. 1. When finished, the committee will enlist the aid of the state legislature’s Northern Virginia delegation to initiate action that would eliminate the privacy clause from the state policy and allow privacy provisions at individual colleges and universities in Virginia to stand.

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