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Forum tackles employee e-mail privacy

Patti Thorp, wife of Chancellor Holden Thorp, speaks about UNC’s Build-a-Block fundraiser at the October employee forum meeting Wednesday.
Patti Thorp, wife of Chancellor Holden Thorp, speaks about UNC’s Build-a-Block fundraiser at the October employee forum meeting Wednesday.

Employees were urged to separate their personal and business correspondences and to participate more in campus projects Wednesday at a relatively quiet Employee Forum.

A first-time appearance by Chancellor Holden Thorp’s wife, Patti Thorp, and discussions concerning the Public Records Act and information retention schedules were on the agenda of the monthly forum.

The meeting focused on the Public Records Act, with Associate University Counsel Kara Simmons advising employees to maintain separate e-mail accounts — one for business and one for personal use — to protect their privacy.

“Think before you hit send,” she said.

With a UNC e-mail account, there is no guarantee of privacy, Simmons said. Those e-mail accounts can be looked into to comply with subpoenas or employee misconduct issues, she added.

“This is not a frequent occurrence, but the possibility exists,” she said. “We make every effort to limit our search to monitor the circumstance.”

Erin O’Meara, electronic records archivist, spoke about the campus information retention schedule.

She and her department work to help employees dispose of and archive University information.

O’Meara said the University has not decided whether it will follow Gov. Bev Perdue’s executive order that everything in a system should be archived.

Until the University decides, O’Meara said she recommended following Simmons’ advice about separate personal and business accounts.

Afterward, Patti Thorp, an avid supporter of UNC Habitat for Humanity, spoke to the forum about getting involved in the group’s Build-a-Block project.

The project is a student-led initiative to build 10 homes for UNC employees off of Rogers Road. It has been largely funded by various University groups and departments.

Thorp said she wants the project to bring UNC employees — and the overall University community — together to help each other.

“They are our family,” she said. “They are people who have served the students the most.”

The first “big cooperative build” for the project will be this Saturday, Thorp said, when students, alumni and employees gather to construct the first house.

Forum members also discussed the possibility of virtual meetings for those who cannot always attend.

The forum’s legislative action and executive committees will conduct pilot tests of virtual meetings using Yahoo Groups, an online communication tool.

Brenda Malone, vice chancellor for human resources, also asked the forum to get involved in Carolina Cares, Carolina Shares, a program in which employees can give to an organization of their choice.

“The dollars are well spent,” Malone said. “They go to a zillion different organizations.”

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