Faculty may drop info

Lindsey Reed

Concerns over online privacy and identity theft are prompting measures to protect students, faculty and staff.

Administrators and the University Senate are considering the possibility of removing faculty members’ home contact information from campus directories.

Richard Kirchmeyer, vice president for Information Technology, said the contact information poses an identity theft risk.

“Identity theft costs the average person $17,000 of their own money,” he said.

Kirchmeyer gave an information technology report during Thursday’s senate meeting.

Not all faculty members list their home address and telephone number, but those who do may be giving away valuable information, Kirchmeyer said.

“Now if they have your name, phone number, address and where you work, all they need next is your Social Security number,” Kirchmeyer said.

Social Security numbers are the main identification used to carry out day-to-day business on the Hill, Kirchmeyer said.

A new university Social Security Number Protection Plan is already in the works to help solve safety issues. Social Security numbers would be replaced with generated identification numbers for students, faculty and staff, according to the plan.

A senate vote has not yet been made in regard to removing the faculty’s home information from directories.

“We will table this until the Faculty Welfare and Professional Responsibilities Committee meets and makes a recommendation to the Senate,” senate Chairman Doug Smith said. “Then the Senate, as a whole, will vote.”

The Faculty Welfare and Professional Responsibilities Committee will meet on Sept. 4.

Mary Wolinski, music associate professor and newly elected Faculty Welfare and Professional Responsibilities committee head, said she has noticed differences between Western’s directory and other universities’ directories.

“They don’t seem to give the home information – it’s just their campus address,” she said.

Home addresses and telephone numbers are included in the campus directories unless faculty request that they not be printed, Wolinski said.

Some faculty do not feel comfortable including home information in the directory.

“I don’t think students should call me at home,” said Darlene Applegate, a senate member and modern language and intercultural studies assistant professor. “They can call the department to get in touch.”

Roger Scott, a senate member and physics and astronomy professor, said faculty who want their home information in the directory should have the option.

But Scott chooses to keep his home number out of the directory.

“I work hard and put in long hours, and I like keeping my home life separate,” he said.

Reach Lindsey Reed at [email protected]