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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, February 07, 2023

University refutes student labor committee’s accusations of spying

Members of the Student Labor Action Coalition claim the University of Wisconsin administration invaded their privacy by obtaining their organizational e-mail, a charge the university has deemed false.  




SLAC alleges the university 'electronically harvested' the minutes of their Feb. 2 meeting from WiscMail and proceeded to redistribute them to Labor Licensing Policy Committee members for political purposes.  




'We explicitly said that taking the e-mail probably was legal, but we didn't think it was morally correct or upholding any ideas of free speech to have the administration secretly spying on the members of SLAC and distributing our meeting notes to others for political purposes without our consent,' said UW-Madison senior Liana Dalton, a member of SLAC. 




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LaMarr Billups, special assistant to UW Chancellor John Wiley, said a member of the SLAC listserve sent him the e-mail and attached minutes. 'We do not hack into e-mail systems of individuals or organizations. That did not occur,' he said. 




The notes contained discussion of ongoing efforts to execute the Designated Suppliers Program, a measure to decrease the amount of UW logo apparel manufactured in sweatshops. The chancellor recently approved the policy in December after a long negotiation with SLAC. 




In the meeting minutes, SLAC expressed dissatisfaction with the University's lack of progress in implementing the new policy. 




Feb. 8, Billups sent an e-mail to members of LLPC that included the minutes and his personal comments expressing his dissatisfaction with SLAC's criticisms of the university. 




'In the minutes, they discussed what the University and the chancellor's response has been to the DSP, and it was not true what they were saying,' Billups said. 'My e-mail explained exactly what it is that we have done, and I expressed my dissatisfaction with what I consider an act of bad faith.' 




UW-Madison junior and SLAC member Joel Feingold explained the meaning of the minutes. 




'What we were saying is that what the chancellor had agreed to do, and this has been consistent, is an excellent first step, and we congratulate him for making this first step, but we don't see this as implementation of the DSP,' Feingold said. 'He's cut out several core elements of the program and it just won't function with the ways that he's designed it.' 




Billups said he understands that SLAC has a need to remain vigilant and keep pressure on the University to do the right thing, but wants people to recognize that they have done right by the proposal. 




'We have taken the proposal, we have considered the proposal, we've spent resources on the proposal and we're testing out the proposal,' he said.

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