Trinity email leak exposes sensitive information to JCR
(This article was originally published at https://cherwell.org/2019/02/10/trinity-email-leak-exposes-sensitive-information-to-jcr/ in February 2019)
Cherwell has been alerted to a mishandling of information at Trinity College after a private e-mail discussing findings on the treatment of BAME students on campus was mistakenly made public.
The e-mail, which the Trinity JCR President accidentally sent to a mailing list of all JCR members rather than to the college President, disclosed the results of a poll issued to all undergraduates. 12 of the students surveyed identified themselves in the survey as either “Black/African/Caribbean/Black-British” or “Mixed/Multi-Ethnic”. Of the 12 students, who would comprise approximately 4.1% of the Trinity undergraduate population, 9 reported having “faced any specific issues or incidents” at Trinity with regards race or ethnicity and 5 said that worries or issues about race have a detrimental effect on their mental health, the e-mail claims.
The e-mail also notes that a complaint was made by a member of the JCR to the president describing a specific incident taking place at Trinity and requesting that the encounter be on the record with the JCR committee.
The complaint has subsequently been sent to Trinity’s approximately 290 JCR members as a result of the mistake. The breach was quickly noticed and unintended recipients of the e-mail were sent a follow-up apologising for the mistake and asking them to delete the message.
When asked to comment, the president referred to the incident as an example of “human error” writing: “What has happened was a human error in a private email context where an email was accidentally Trinity email leak exposes sensitive information to JCR sent to the wrong mailing list; this is very regrettable but not a voluntary breach of confidentiality.
“Gladly, no students were mentioned by name in this email. Additionally, the numbers from the survey cited in the email in question were inaccurate.
“This incident has sensitised the JCR committee, including myself, to be more careful with our email conversations. I have also urged the committee to turn on the “undo sending” option in outlook and have done so myself.
“It is top priority of Trinity College JCR that every student feels welcome and cared for at Trinity.
“To this end, we are surveying our members to understand how to better support them and feeding this information back to college in order to work together on improving the culture and support provision at Trinity.”
Speaking to Cherwell on the subject of inclusivity, the Trinity College Communications Department said: “As a small collegiate community, it is our top priority at Trinity to foster an environment in which everyone feels comfortable, welcome and respected.
“We want students to feel empowered to come forward if they encounter instances of behaviour that work counter to these values so that we can continuously work to ensure that every single member of our community feels warmly included and that Trinity lives up to its values.”