:: It’s time for the writing roundup of the articles I published during the month of March. I only published two pieces this month, but one was a doozy, so.
Indeed, because one was a doozy, I’m going in reverse-chronological order so that the doozy comes second.
On March 13, 2015, The Chronicle of Higher Education Vitae published “Losing My Affiliation.” This piece was the fourth in my Freelance Academic series for Vitae. The piece recounts how I unexpectedly went from employed by a university—and from having a university affiliation for 11 years—to unaffiliated in a matter of 24 hours.
Many of the challenges I’ve encountered during this sudden transition were surprising, and the solutions even more so. So I thought I’d share my adventures in suddenly starting over, in case they might help you in your journey from employed to self-employed, from academic to freelance academic.
I addressed the practical ramifications of losing one’s affiliation—library access, for example—and the ephemeral, such as how to build a new identity without an institution behind you any more.
It was a good piece. Then came the doozy.
For those of you who don’t know, I write about campus rape and work as a consultant with End Rape on Campus. When we found out, via this article from Tyler Kingkade at the Huffington Post, that the University of Oregon had Watergated the counseling records of a student before she had ever brought a lawsuit (a civil lawsuit that she did, eventually, file), we wanted to know if any college could—legally—so easily access the medical records of its students.
On March 2, 2015, The Chronicle of Higher Education (the regular one) published “Raped on Campus? Don’t Trust Your College to Do the Right Thing.” I argued that UO might have legally been allowed to take her records without her permission before she filed a lawsuit, but it really sucked that they did.
BUT KATIEEEEEE! [Says the half of the Internet], wouldn’t they have had access to her records anyways because she filed a lawsuit against them?!
Sure, eventually, some of them, through the proper judicial discovery process. But not in a back-room-have-some-intern-scan-all-of-her-records-and-email-them-around-and-are-you-creeped-out-yet? manner.
The issue isn’t whether they would have eventually had proper access to the records.
The issue is that they took them, before any lawsuit was filed, without her permission, and without judicial oversight. The issue is that, had the plaintiff in the case not been a student, UO would not have been allowed to do this. But, as I explain, FERPA, which covers student medical records, allows just this sort of thing. This is a loophole I urged the Department of Education to close. Fortunately, some folks are listening.