SGA talks health services, privacy concerns

DePaul+University+Lincoln+Park+campus.

Bianca Cseke | The DePaulia

DePaul University Lincoln Park campus.

Shannon Suffoletto, the director of the Office of Health, Promotion and Wellness (HPW), joined DePaul’s Student Government Association (SGA) during their general body meeting on Thursday to discuss the resources that the office offers to students. 

Suffoletto discussed services offered through University Counseling Services (UCS). 

Consisting of a team of psychologists, a psychiatrist and other staff, UCS provides counseling to students in different areas such as depression and test anxiety, according to the office’s website

Suffoletto explained the steps that students take when seeking counseling services.

“When a student enters, they’re going to do a 15-minute initial consultation,” Suffoletto said. 

Students go through an assessment process first so that the office can figure out why a student wants to enter counseling services according to Suffoletto. Then, a student is matched with a counselor and enters counseling. 

Suffoletto added that on average, students go through four to seven counseling sessions but that counselors adapt to the student’s needs. 

Information Systems Privacy Policy

David Hupp, a student and regular attendee of SGA’s general body meetings, discussed the proposal he wrote regarding DePaul’s privacy policy connected to its information systems. Hupp explained that following the shift to remote learning in the spring, the university provided all DePaul students access to a Blue [email protected] email address used by faculty and staff and that this address became the main method for the university to send notifications to students. 

Policy Proposal: DePaul University Information Systems Privacy Policy by DePaulia on Scribd

In his report, Hupp expressed concerns regarding “user data and privacy in university information systems” and suggested that SGA “should advocate for students’ interests in these systems.”

“Essentially, the university gives itself the right to use student data (other than educational and health data) for any ‘legitimate business purpose’ such as ‘administering this or other DePaul policies,’” Hupp wrote. “Which means that the administration can violate student privacy en masse any time it reasonably believes that any university policy is being violated, according to the administration’s own judgement, with no oversight or recourse available to the student body should the student body disagree with that judgement.” 

Hupp added the only way for students to avoid this violation of their privacy is by not using the university’s information systems but that it is now nearly impossible given the shift to using the Blue [email protected] address.

“More succinctly, the administration can do whatever it wants (excepting educational and health data), and there’s nothing students can do about it, other than not using the system at all… which is no longer possible now that the university mandates its use for university notifications,” Hupp’s report read.

Hupp compared this to a 2012 incident when the university “summarily searched every single dorm on campus for stolen CTA maps — without any individual probably cause — after The DePaulia ran a story about the popularity among DePaul students of stealing CTA maps from CTA trains and displaying them as trophies in dorm rooms.”

“I believe that it is only a matter of when — not a matter of if — this kind of conflict will arise from DePaul’s information services systems, especially with the move to distance learning, remote work, and remote anything,” Hupp wrote.

T-shirt drop

SGA Treasurer Camila Barrientos talked about SGA’s interest in sponsoring a T-shirt drop for about 1,000 people. The drop would tie into SGA’s “On Thursdays We Wear Blue” initiative. 

According to Barrientos, the total cost for the shirts would be around $8,000. 

SGA decided to table the discussion.

AASHE Fund

SGA passed a measure to allocate funds to join the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) program as part of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

 According to their website, the STARS program “is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.”

Wesley Janicki, SGA’s executive vice president of facility operations, explained that the program holds conferences throughout the year, has certain criteria that will rate DePaul’s sustainability performance and is catered more towards faculty.

“I think this is a good way to [show] we as students care about sustainability,” Janicki said.

President’s Report

SGA President Alyssa Isberto welcomed SGA’s newest senators recently elected to serve in SGA.

Isberto also discussed SGA’s newsletter which will start this week and about how SGA will take part in the Office of Student Involvement’s “What You Need to Know” series.

Vice President’s Report

SGA Vice President Watfae Zayed asked SGA members to submit any constitutional revisions to the Constitutional Revisions Board.