There exists a Personal File for each and every academic staff member on campus that contains information related to employment and educational history. In fact, all materials considered by a personnel committee (such as a Search or STP Committee) and all materials forming the basis of a disciplinary decision (Article 25) or complaint (Article 11.02) are entered into the personal file. This file is maintained by the Dean/University Librarian and is held in his/her/their office. It is also subject to the university-wide records management policy for retention and disposal.
Far from being the passive subject matter of a file, each Member has the right to interact with the file in very meaningful ways so that it best represents them as academics. Under Article 9 of the Faculty Handbook, Members have the right to:
- inspect their own personal files;
- submit comments upon the accuracy and/or meaning of any of the contents of the file;
- add materials to and be informed about materials added to the file; and,
- equally important, but perhaps less known, is your right to request the removal of documents from your personal file (Article 9.10).
There is so much to say about Personal Files that, in the interest of keeping this article manageable, let’s focus on this last issue of removal. The right to have documents removed from your file is generally important for maintaining the most accurate and relevant information, but it is also more than that. Removing documents is crucial when it comes to matters of complaints and discipline.
While these documents must be placed into the personal file, you should know that these documents don’t have to remain indefinitely. After a period of time, you may request their removal and you are strongly encouraged to do so. In fact, at the time any letter of complaint and/or discipline are put into the file, consider having a deadline of a year, or some other appropriate period of time, included in the Dean’s/UL’s letter and then follow up to engage the removal process. This is your file as much as it is the University’s; make sure it is up-to-date and that it reflects who you are as an academic.
As always, whenever you have questions about this or any other process, or if you find yourself in the position of having a complaint or a disciplinary action brought against you, first, contact the confidential office of the Faculty Association at ext.2328, and, second, always bring a fellow ULFA member to any meeting with your Dean/UL/supervisor.
References: While most of the information in this update can be found in Article 9 Personal Files, additional references to personal files can be found in Articles 2.20, 11.02, 20, 21, 23, 24, and 25.