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Old 03-25-2007, 10:01 AM
 
1 posts, read 3,577 times
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Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Wytheville Community College

I just found out about this whole fiasco on 3/9/07 and I really wanted to get the word out to those who may be effected or could be effected by this. I am a 2005 Alumni of Wytheville Community College in Wytheville VA. I am currently employed at a state university in an office where I have been working for the past 8 months. On March 9, my department Chair called me into his office and expressed some concern with regard to a piece of mail he had received from Wytheville Community College's Institutional Research Analyst/office.

September 8, 2006, I had filled out and mailed in a survey which asked me generalized questions about the quality of my education at WCC as well as what type of employment I currently held and whether or not it was directly related to my degree received at WCC. Ok, fine. I do not mind providing them with information that will help them create better courses of study for future students. I filled out their GENERALIZED survey and filled out the attached release form specifying that they had permission to use my survey only. Also attached to this release was a check box on the top portion, one for transcript information release and employment information release. I did not feel that this information should be used as a part of this survey since it was my own personal information so I declined to mark these areas. On this form, I was asked to provide my SSN so that the information could be linked to my files in the event of a name change or some such as that. No problem. I was getting married on the next day so I went ahead and signed my new married name and provided the number. I should mention here that when I was a student at WCC from 2003-2005, they used SSNs as a student ID number. I strongly objected to this then because they were very loose with their practices and done nothing to protect information.

Getting back to the meeting with my department Chair person, he questioned me about what exactly I had provided the college with and what I had signed to release and then promptly showed me a letter that he had received from WCC and a copy of the release form with my SSN in full. They had sent him the information that I provided them in confidentiality and then requested information specific to what kind of employee I was, job performance, preparedness for the job etc. with the same statement of "total confidentiality" included in his letter that was used in the letter I received with the survey I took. Obviously, they did not keep the information provided confidential because they not only associated my name with it, they mailed out my SSN as well. The other thing I noticed was that the top portions on the release form I had signed for transcript and employment information had been marked. I did not mark these originally. Someone at WCC marked them.

I immediately called the Institutional Research Office at WCC and asked them for information regarding this survey and more specifically why they divulged my SSN to someone outside their college whether it was my current employer or not. I was speaking with the secreatery so naturally, I was not as harsh on her as I was with the person who was responsible for putting this in the mail. She said she would have to call her boss, Dr. Kent Glindermann and ask him about this. She returned my phone call in less than 10 minutes and said that Dr. Glindermann, the Institutional Research Analyst who sent it out and signed it had told her that he done this because my current employer already had my personal information anyway and they were using it to verify that I was the same person and to minimize mistakes regarding name changes etc. My next question to the secretary was whether or not she could tell me if this had been sent anywhere else. Surprisingly, she disclosed to me that this information had been sent to at least 4 other previous employers. The catch with this would be that these previous employers did NOT have the information to start with. I worked for these 4 through a temporary staffing service called @work. @work did have the information but the places I went to work did not have it because they did not do the screening for temporary employment. I thanked her for her supply of information and promptly wrote a letter to Glenn DuBois, Chancellor of Virginia Community College Systems (VCCS) expressing concern about my personal information being made public and being sent to outside persons that did not have permission to access it. I faxed this and verified the next work day that it did get to his office and was being reviewed.

I put a copy of the complaint sent to the Chancellor into the mail Cced to Dr. Glinderman so that he would get it and be made aware that I was not pleased with this situation. I called Dr. Glindermann's office on March 12 and spoke with him about the matter and told him that I was very concerned because of the following:

1. The envelope to my boss was not correctly addressed and did not have his name on it and therefore, could have been sent to anyone on campus or to any faculty member in our department.

2. The two boxes were checked on the top portion of the page and I did not do this. It was clear that these were not my markings.

3. My personal information (SSN) was sent to persons who did not previously have it along with a survey soliciting information based on temporary jobs I held during the time I couldnt find a job.

After nicely bringing these concerns to his attention and asking him where he sent the information (just for clarification) I was approached very rudely by him with the comment that he only sent the information to my current place of employment and because I was employed there, they already had my SSN. He refused several times to put this statement in writing and also to destroy the information that I had provided them because they werent finished with their project yet and still needed it. This conversation went on for a total of about 20 minutes and escalated to the point that I really felt that he was simply invading my privacy and probably in violation of privacy laws. I ended the phone call and composed a document stating that he specifically was no longer allowed to use the information that I had provided them because he had misused it with intentions of exploiting or making public my personal information and that he had carelessly disregarded the possibilities of ID theft and other crimes that could be imposed upon me because of his precariousness. In short, this paper denied him the right to use the information based off the way that he had used what he had already.

I also addressed a letter to the college president requesting that he handle this matter as promptly as possible and sent a copy of this statement to him as well as the chancellor. These letters were first initially faxed to their respective offices on March 12. I followed up with a phone call on March 14 and was told by the secretary that I had previously spoken to who had been rather lenient with information on this matter "We will no longer accept any form of verbal communication from you and all requests must be made in writing. We received nothing from you" and that was the end of it. The afternoon of March 16, I got off work early and we made a trip to Wytheville to hand deliver the letters of concern to Mr. Glindermann and the college president. Of course, no one was in their offices on a Friday at 4:00 PM because they all leave early. I gave the letter to a secretary in the administration office and she assured me that she would see that he got it. I was able to deliver the letter to the office of the president without problem.

To date, I have heard nothing from WCC, Dr. Glindermann, WCC's President or Mr. DuBois from VCCS. It would be my urgent concern that this, too, was overlooked, misplaced, or simply forgotten about and they will continue to precariously use and manage the information they have been given.

It is my goal with this blog posting to make everyone aware of what WCC has been doing with personal information they have, especially if you or someone you know could be effected by it.

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added to this post 3/22/07 for the purpose of keeping it at the same link

This morning I set out E-Mailing every media carrier from Bristol to Roanoke about the situation with WCC. I have still been unable to get satisfaction from WCC and they claimed that they did not get a piece of mail that I hand delivered on March 16th not only in one office but in two! Two pieces of mail that were hand delivered they are saying they never received! Of course they havent offered up any sort of response to the matter or any type of resolution to the problem either.

I have received a call back from the Roanoke Times on the matter. They said they were going to call WCC and talk with them about it and then possibly get back with me on the matter. I doubt that WCC will want to talk with them about this. It's something they really do not want to detail to anyone. They wont even issue a written statement to me.

I have also contacted WCYB 5 TV in Bristol, WSLS News Channel 10 in Roanoke and WDBJ7 in their Blacksburg office. In the line of newspapers, I have contacted Smyth County News & Messenger, Bristol Herald Courier and the Galax Gazette. I am working on contacting the Wytheville Enterprise at the moment but I have stopped searching for an email address to make this post.

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Added 3/23/07

I got a call today around 11:30 from WSLS Newschannel 10 on this matter and they are hoping to schedule an interview with me either Tuesday or Thursday of next week during my lunch hour.

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Added 3/25/07

Friday afternoon We got some certified mail, 2 pieces to be exact. The post mark sticker from the mail meter was dated 3/22 but I believe that the dates had been altered for the benefit of Wytheville Community College because of the simple fact that the entire group of administration that I had been speaking with there had maintained even up to the morning prior to the call from WSLS that they had received nothing from me. Funny thing that they would pay almost 10.00 to express same day send 2 pieces of mail AFTER they were contacted by both WSLS and the Roanoke Times just to cover their butts.

One of these letters was from Dr. Glindermann. He had enclosed a letter as well as a copy of the original survey I took, the letter that accompanied it, a copy of the letter he sent to my boss and a copy of that survey (blank) He failed to relinquish the original documents to me or disclose the date and method of destroying them as per my request, therefore, the originals are still floating around somewhere. The other letter was from the college president, Charlie White, who still by the way is listed on WCC's website as Ed Barnes--his letter assures that all information will no longer be used that I provided and goes on to make a statement that nothing will be released from WCC unless I make an in person request to do so. This bothered me because this means that I will have to make a trip to WCC in person to request a transcript be sent to an employer. Apparently my written request for information is no longer good enough although I would think that would be more official than having to make an in-person request.

To make things more interesting, Mr. Glindermann specified in his letter to me that the information was not sent anywhere else. I know otherwise. I have done my homework. Also, on the copy of the survey that I filled out in September, I saw where they had added to one of my answers. I had written in the the name of my place of employment and the department without the address information. I done this because I did not want to be contacted at work and I did not feel that they should contact my employer but it was ok just for them to have a generalized idea of the field of work I had went into. The secretary took it upon herself to add in the incorrect address that I mentioned earlier. She did imitate my handwriting pretty well, I will admit, however, she made one mistake in doing so--there was other handwriting of mine all over the page and she failed to make calligraphic A's and I's like I normally do and also, she failed to use a quill fountain pen, therefore, her markings were deathly lighter in the copy that any of mine throughout the entire survey. The fact that I did not supply them with my work address would be in line with the fact that I did not check the two release boxes on the release form for employer and transcript. Wytheville Community College added to something I had already signed and then used it in what I would consider a very unprofessional way. You do not add to, or take away from something that someone has already signed just because you would like for it to be done to suit yourself.
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