ASU Sets Privacy Trap for Employees Wanting Public Information

By Watching Adams Staff – 10/12/15

Adams State University’s (ASU) administration has claimed for years that employee pay hovered on average about 30% below that of peer universities, but the data was never made public.  The College and University Professional Association (CUPA) salary calculation data is now available on the ASU Human Resources website. But if anyone wants to view it, there’s a significant catch: they must first identify themselves to ASU Human Resources and thereby forfeit their privacy.

A preliminary review of this data has found that while most ASU faculty and staff make less than 80% of their peers at other institutions, approximately 24 administrative positions are paid at 100% or above of their peers, some at 120% or even greater.  A forthcoming article at Watching Adams will analyze the data in much greater detail.  Download the CUPA Evaluation Data anonymously here.  For more on the delayed release of this data, see ASU HR Violates Colorado Open Records Act.

However, unlike other publicly-available information on the ASU website, visitors have to first identify themselves with their university email credentials before gaining access to the compensation data. One attempt to access the data with an outside email account prompted HR to require the individual to use their ASU email, instead. So not only is the data kept behind a security wall away from public review, but that security wall is actively being monitored.

1) The Compensation Committee Report appears as a headline, not a clickable link. Perhaps this was never intended to be clicked on, or it was hastily put together without conforming to the website’s style guide, possibly from a long-overdue CORA request.
ASU Google Login
2) In order to access the documents on the ASU HR website, visitors must then input their ASU login credentials…  Assuming they have them.
ASU Request Access
3) Once logged in, the public document’s “permission” must be individually requested from HR.

There are two issues here. The first is that these disparities in compensation relative to ASU’s peers are likely to raise some serious questions about equity, particularly among the underpaid faculty and staff who strive to put in 100% of their effort for a mere 72.5% of their position’s average pay. They may also wonder about the widening income gap between different classes of ASU employee; even in times of budgetary shortfall, many administrators are being paid well above their peers at other institutions. This is after a 2014-2015 Compensation Committee was convened to address pay equity. These are the results.

The first issue gives rise to the second. In order to quell the predictable ire that such disparities raise, ASU HR appears to be actively monitoring the access channels to this purportedly-public information, capturing the identities of curious employees whom administrators may suspect as potential dissidents.

This is a moral and constitutional matter of substantial concern.

Is it legal to insist employees relinquish their right to privacy in order to access public information? And even if it is, is it ethical given the institutional mission and values that ASU administration claims to uphold?

Watching Adams has posted all available compensation data and many other relevant ASU documents on this website, available for anonymous download.  The public has a right to this information.  And a right to their privacy.

UPDATED 10/20/15: The formatting and access of this page on the ASU HR website has been revised to allow for public access to this data.  Watching Adams appreciates the administration’s responsiveness to this issue of individual privacy and access to public information.