Threats and Harassment
Privacy and Records
Universities are hierarchical by design. Faculty wield enormous power over undergraduate and graduate students; research assistants; and teaching assistants. Many graduate students are granted similar authority over undergraduates. If you need to report violations of the Student Code of Conduct or the Faculty Code of Conduct, report to:
There are times when criticism of scholarly work or teaching can escalate into physical threats or harassment. If you are in imminent danger, call 911. Scholars who are facing threats or harassment (voicemails, emails, physical confrontations, sustained threatening conflict with an individual or group) should report such incidents through the SafeU/University Police Department website.
To report a crime or imminent/ongoing violence, call the University Police Department at 801-585-2677. SafeU provides links for reporting the following:
Respect for individual and institutional privacy requires the exercise of care and judgment. University employees are entrusted with personal and institutional information that should be treated as confidential information. While the University of Utah, a public institution, keeps its business affairs open to public scrutiny, there is some information that must be treated as confidential, such as student records, employee files, patient records, and contract negotiations.
A university employee, accessing university information, assumes a responsibility for the information and must ensure its confidentiality. Such information is to be used only for conducting University business. Faculty, staff, and students are expected to exercise responsible, ethical behavior when using the university's computers, networks, or other resources. These responsibilities include the proper storage, access control, and disposal of private and confidential data presented to the user in any form. Individuals must also report known or suspected security violations through their chain of command or department executive.
Student records at the University of Utah are governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The Act forbids the University from releasing personal identifiable student educational records or files, or personal information contained in those files, without the student's written consent, except in specified situations. For more information about FERPA, please refer to the Student Handbook.
Employee and student health records are protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). While HIPAA applies in clinical settings and between clinicians, university employees should be cognizant of protecting others’ privacy when discussing medical and mental health issues.
When academic work makes scholars the targets of harassment and intimidation, faculty privacy can be compromised through posting personal information such as addresses or phones numbers, known as “doxing.” If personal information such as a home address, cell phone number, or family details have been posted online, report the incident to University Police for investigation.
Scholars also can take proactive steps to protect their personal information online:
- Minimize disclosure of personal information on social media accounts
- Limit social media contacts to private groups
- Review past social media posts to remove personal information
- Ask the county clerk to make your voting record private
- Request Internet search engines, including Google, to remove personal information that has been inappropriately posted online
As a public institution, the university's records are presumed to be public and all records are subject to Utah's open records laws. These laws apply to all University records whether created/maintained on University systems or on an employee's private computers.
The Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) provides exemptions for certain Private, Controlled, Protected and/or Restricted records including personnel files, employee health records and unpublished work. Under GRAMA, members of the public can request physical or electronic records, including:
- Correspondence, including text messages and voicemails
- Gross Compensation
- Syllabi and class notes
- Department and college records about—
- course development
- faculty and student recruitment
- donor gifts
If you receive a GRAMA request, the University's Office of General Counsel can help you respond to the request and can help you determine if the records are public (and must be produced) or whether records may be denied on the basis of a statutory exception. A response to a GRAMA request is always required and there are criminal sanctions for failing to properly comply.