I was quite alarmed to receive a copy of the message below sent by City College President Terry Burgess on behalf of “the district” attempting to censor the content of email messages from one of our professors.
At the last two District Governance Council (DGC) meetings, faculty and staff leadership were given a “draft” policy that included consideration of changes to email usage, a copy of which I had earlier sent to all of you.
We were told at the DGC meetings that this proposed policy change was just a “draft” and was for “initial discussion purposes only.”
Apparently, the District has now decided otherwise, without waiting for any feedback whatsoever from faculty or staff leaders. This abrupt change in past practice represents a unilateral change in your working conditions which the Guild intends to contest.
Please let me know immediately if you receive any type of message from the District administration which would aim to restrict the content of your email messages in any way. Remember, you have a legal right to send any type of message over the District’s email system.
From: Jim Mahler <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, 11 May 2007 09:10:20 -0700
To: Terry Burgess <email@example.com>
Cc: Elva Salinas <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: DLs
Please advise “the district” that our current email system is a public forum and that any message may be sent through it.
Any attempt by “the district” to change this practice would be a change in working conditions and therefore “the district” would first be required to first negotiate such a change with the union. In addition, if “the district” begins censoring free speech by attempting to determine which messages are allowable and which are not, “the district” will be making itself liable for a first amendment violation charge.
I have attached a legal opinion from our attorney concerning email usage which will provide you with additional information.
I realize that you are just the messenger in this matter, so please advise those at “the district” who are “getting very particular about email use” to contact me directly if they wish to discuss this matter further.
From: Terrence Burgess
Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2007 10:02 AM
To: Elva Salinas
The district contacted me and asked that I contact you to convey the district policy that our email system may only be used for district business and may not promote unrelated external commercial enterprises or activities. Apparently, your DL announcing a Mariachi Festival at the Fair Grounds precipitated the contact. We also need to be careful not to promote particular political positions as, I’m told, these are prohibited as well. What precipitated this one was a graphic on immigration that was included in a recent World Cultures DL you sent.
I hate to be the bearer of this news. The district is getting very particular about email use, particularly DLs.
Please help me with this by being especially careful not to violate the policy the district is striving to enforce. Thanks for your help.
Terrence J. Burgess, President
San Diego City College
1313 Park Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92101-4787