Friday, February 01, 2008

Homosexuality Trumps Confidentiality

There is an appalling case at the University of Georgia (also excerpted on today's "Education Watch") where a student was punished for something he wrote on a supposedly "confidential" survey. The university's guarantee of confidentiality to him was rendered a fraud.

How come? Because he wrote a scathing evaluation of a professor who himself admitted that he was "difficult". You still don't get it? The professor was a homosexual. Protecting homosexuals from criticism trumped all the integrity of the university's promises, apparently.

I was appalled enough about it to write as follows to University President Adams:
"Dear Prof Adams

As a survey researcher with over 200 papers in the academic journals, I was shocked and appalled to hear that your administration has failed to protect a guarantee of anonymity that you have given.

I find it hard to believe that you have allowed an emotional homosexual to undermine your integrity in the matter. I refer of course to the affair of Assoc. Prof Joseph Disponzio and student Beck.

You should have refused all co-operation with anything arising from a breach of the guarantee you have given.

You have completely undermined all such guarantees given not only by you but by all of us survey researchers -- guarantees that are essential to social research.

Please backpedal immediately and completely. You are an irresponsible and shortsighted fool if you do not.

I intend to post this letter on the net in order to discourage you from ignoring it. Your actions in the matter so far do not inspire much confidence in you

Yours faithfully

(Dr) John Ray

I was probably not as nicey-nicey as I should have been so I encourage others to add their voices to mine. The email address for Adams is: presuga@uga.edu

Posted by John Ray

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Here's what I sent Dr. Adams:

Dear Dr. Adams:

I read today at http://astuteblogger.blogspot.com/ (and further at http://edwatch.blogspot.com/ where the original story appeared) about how your university violated the confidentiality rights of a student (Brian Beck), apparently on the theory that his criticism of a professor in a CONFIDENTIAL course evaluation violated university policy.

I condemn your university's violation of this student's confidentiality rights. While I think his comments were despicable, it is CLEAR that this student was merely venting his (rather intolerant) feelings, not threatening anyone. The main point that I am trying to make is that your university promised its students confidentiality, and it lied. THAT is more despicable than the comments in question. How is your university supposed to ever credibly state that a survey will be confidential? How are you supposed to obtain honest criticism (which will hopefully be far more constructive than the comments in this case) if it is known that the university LIES. Frankly, this violation of Mr. Beck's confidentiality is self-defeating for the university - it is your loss, not Mr. Beck's.

I also question the motivation for this action - specifically, I wonder whether similar criticism of a heterosexual professor by a homosexual or lesbian student would have given rise to a similar violation of the promise of confidentiality. I sincerely doubt it.

I am not an alumnus of your university, and I do not know either the professor or the student in this case, but the principle involved is important enough that people without a direct stake in the matter at hand have a right and a duty to comment - and that is the reason for this email.