AMS needs to own up

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Last week, the Journal and Golden Words were anonymously delivered confidential AMS employee T4 forms after AMS Controller Scott Bell failed to move them into storage after 2007-08 financial audits were completed.

Bell said he left them in a hallway when he couldn’t gain access to the storage room and later forgot to go back and put them away.

AMS President Talia Radcliffe said the AMS will try to find out who stole the documents and file a complaint with the non-academic discipline system.

It’s appalling that such an oversight could occur and even more shocking that the AMS would try to paint itself as the victim in this situation.

Although it was wrong of the person who delivered the documents to take them in the first place, he or she was arguably performing a public service. If the employees’ T4 forms hadn’t appeared on the doorsteps of campus publications, the student body might never have known about the security breach.

Now that this incident is out in the open, the AMS will hopefully make changes to ensure nothing like this happens again.

The AMS’s first step should have been to issue an apology to its employees for putting them at risk for identity theft. Instead, the executive refused to take responsibility for its error and redirected the blame to the person who took the documents.

This attitude destroys students’ faith in the institution’s ability to protect their private information and highlights the need for policy changes to improve students’ security.

It’s too simplistic to fault Bell, a long-time permanent AMS staffer, for a genuine error in an otherwise clean career. Bell said he reported that he couldn’t get into the storage room and, because someone else was made aware of the situation, there should have been more accountability in ensuring the documents reached their proper destination.

Perhaps the AMS should also introduce more security measures, such as having two people to move the forms and making sure the storage space is accessible on the day they’re moved.

Changes in policy and practice would let the hundreds of AMS employees know the AMS is taking the issue seriously; in the absence of a formal apology though, that remains unclear.

If only the AMS kept employee forms as secretive as it does its accountability practices. Then they would be safe.

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