Rectus protectus

By Ryan Pelletier

Have you ever questioned the security or privacy of your graded papers being returned to you in a box outside your department office? Due to a Sept. 1 proclamation date for the implementation of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for post-secondary students, essay boxes will become a thing of the past.

University of Calgary Archivist and Information and Privacy Coordinator Jo-Ann Munn Gafuik has been in charge of coordinating university efforts to meet the Sept. 1 deadline.

"It’s my job to find problem areas and to assist university staff to comply with the act," said Gafuik. "The university has imposed an April 30 deadline on itself in order to be ready for September. The FOIP act will affect how we deliver marks to students and the time involved to receive the marks. It will deal with the problem of unauthorized access and theft of personal, graded material and will affect the manner in which students receive their marks."

Academic Commissioner Lisa Snead voiced a different opinion. Snead said the implementation of the act will cause problems and create difficulty on the campus, for both students and staff.

"It’s a good thing it wasn’t implemented when it was supposed to be [Jan. 4] because the university wasn’t ready," said Snead. "I hope the university takes a common sense approach. It’s going to be a bureaucratic nightmare."

"British Columbia and Saskatchewan have already handled the problem ahead of us with little difficulty," Gafuik counters. "It is my job to find problem areas and to assist university staff to comply with the act to meet the April 30 deadline. We are working hard to ensure that the FOIP act does not become an inconvenience."
Biological Sciences professor Dr. Michael Bentley was one of the few who was ready for the university’s original January deadline.

"Our Biology 311 class was one of the first classes to try to do something about the Freedom of Information Act. We were told we would have to be ready by the beginning of January, and we didn’t want to adapt to the law without ever having tried it," said Bentley. After the deadline was pushed back to April, Bentley and his colleagues went ahead with the measures.

"It was successful in that it was legal in regards to the FOIP law. On the other hand, it costs money. Our staff didn’t just hand back tests for fun-while they were doing that, they weren’t doing their regular jobs. So what’s more important?" said Bentley. "In all the years I taught, we used to go to the front of the class and yell out names for people to grab their test. In all the years I taught, not one person complained about not getting their test back or about people looking at each other’s grades."

Unfortunately, the deadline draws nearer and many are still unprepared for the change.

"Walking down the hallways in Chemistry or Physics, I see boxes full of assignments and tests," said Bentley. "There hasn’t been any change. My colleagues and I talked about the implications of the law last year and implemented it this year. It seems like the obvious thing to do-if there’s a train coming your way, what do you do? Get out of the way. Now the train may be going a bit slower due to the postponement, but people had better get off the track before they get sued."

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