Staff Editorial: Dealing with trash

When The Hatchet reported the story March 14 (“Confidential records disposed of incorrectly”), the GW community learned that more than 250 Elliott School student files were placed in unsecured trash bins by GW maintenance staff. Accidents do happen. But it is comforting to see ESIA Dean Harry Harding taking the right steps to make sure student confidentiality is never again exposed to that level of vulnerability.

One option the ESIA is considering, according to an e-mail Harding sent to all ESIA students, is to delegate the task of file disposal to a company specializing in that work. Another option is to rely on ESIA staff for shredding the files.

The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences reports success sending files to an archive service that keeps student files in paper form for five to seven years and on microfilm for 15 years. Marc Wittlif, CCAS office manager, said at the end of the two archiving periods, the records are then incinerated.

Whichever option ESIA chooses, the good news for students is that the school has not downplayed the serious error and informed students what steps are being considered. GW students, and specifically those in ESIA, should be proud of the openness with which the school has dealt with the problem.

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