The Pennsylvanians of Union Reform recently issued a Right to Know request to Slippery Rock University for the name and home address of all university employees.
The Right to Know Law is the Pennsylvania law that guarantees your right to access and to obtain copies of public records held by government agencies. The law was signed on Feb. 14, 2008 by former governor of Pennsylvania Edward G. Rendell and came into effect on Jan. 1, 2009.
Executive Director for University Public Relations and Agency Right to Know Officer, Rita Abent said the university received a Right to Know request for home addresses for all employees. She said this is a legitimate request with which the university is obligated to comply. In this case, the law also allows for people to be notified of the request and to seek an exemption as provided for in the law. Abent said notices were sent to all employees informing them of both of these pieces of information.
“It is not up to the university to determine if an exception is allowed, we simply provide the opportunity for an exception to be requested,” Abent said. “A request for exception can be appealed by the person or organization that originally filed the Right to Know request. That ultimately would be ruled on by the Commonwealth Office of Public Records and the courts.”
Following the request of home addresses of all university employees, the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) sent an email out to all faculty stating if they wish to opt out of having their information released due to personal security and safety reasons, they must go to 201 Old Main and sign a form before April 27.
Dr. Itzi Meztli, SGA APSCUF representative and professor of English expressed his concerns with the law.
“I don’t want to have some crackpot show up at my place, someone who could threaten my life or harm me,” Meztli said. “My home address, to me, is a privacy and security issue. I’m trained to give it out to whoever I want to, but no one else is allowed to demand it of me or in other words, to take it. I can give it freely, but I shouldn’t be required to give it out.”
Meztli said he understands that he is a state employee, but he said if someone wants to contact him, they can go to the SRU website and direct themselves to the English department page where they can find his office address, his office phone number and his office email.
“The problem is, I don’t want them to show up where I live,” Meztli said. “I draw the line there.”
Abent said the university will still compile the list of home addresses as required by the law and the university will respond to the requester.
“Once we’ve done that, we’ve met our obligation and the file will be closed as allowed by law,” she said.