In response to concerns expressed by members of the campus community .the President’s Senior Executive Team (PSET) recently reviewed the issue of posting on the College Web site the anonymous comments submitted as part of the budgeting process.
It has always been the intent of this administration to foster free and open communication. Through the very difficult financial times of recent years, soliciting ideas and comments from across the campus has been an important component of the budgeting process. While there are many communication opportunities through departments, committees and other official paths, some individuals are uncomfortable voicing views in these venues. In response, for the past two years, an anonymous e-mail account and physical suggestion boxes have been available for those who wish to provide input or otherwise express thoughts and opinions about the budget and the budget process. All of those anonymous comments, submitted by e-mail or paper, were reviewed by PSET as one of the many sources of data used in ongoing budget considerations.
As part of identifying budget considerations, PSET worked within the established governance structure to establish expectations for the budgeting process. One result of that work is a set of guidelines about process transparency. An expectation set out in those guidelines is that all data used in determining the College budget would be shared with the campus. The anonymous comments are part of that data. Other data were also used and shared, including legislative mandates, internal and external costs, contract language and more. In addition, the question of sharing the anonymous comments was reviewed and approved at least twice by College Council, once on Feb. 16, 2010, prior to posting, and again on March 16, 2010, after the posting.
All of the data shared publically, including the anonymous comments, are public records. As a public agency, Shoreline Community College is required by law to disclose public records upon request. However, the College can determine how those records are made available and this is the point of discussion that PSET is reviewing again.
As of March 23 2010, the anonymous comments will be removed from the College Web site. A printed copy will be available at the library circulation desk for review. Printed copies of the comments will also be available for review in the Human Resources office upon written request, following the established public records disclosure process. Copies of the comments will also be made available to representatives of both Faculty and Classified unions, and employees may request to review those documents through their respective union representatives.
Through April 30, the College will continue to accept anonymous comments to provide relevant information for budget and organizational planning. Guiding language recommended by College Council at the March 16 meeting has been added to the online form as well as the suggestion boxes. Moving forward, it is hoped that this communication channel will be used as originally intended, to gather thoughtful input toward the goal of making Shoreline Community College a better place to work and learn.