A March 28th, 2012 state issued e-mail from an employee in the 'West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission', (WVHEPC) claims that WV residents are nothing but "poor-pitiful and uneducated." If that is the true opinion of this state run Commissions staff, we have a real problem since the WVHEPC is responsible for developing, establishing, and overseeing the implementation of public policy agenda for the state's four-year colleges and universities according to state statute. They also oversee Student Grievance Procedures, Office of Financial Aid, Outreach Services and Public Statewide Higher Education Job Postings.
The Opinion Of One Employee Or The Entire Commission?
On March 28, 2012 we published the story, "Complexity Is One Reason Why Americans Fear Obamacare" outlining several issues that have some Americans scared and apprehensive of the Obamacare Health Insurance Program. Later the same afternoon at approximately 3pm, we received an e-mail from WVHEPC office staffer Sheila Hunt, (hunt@HEPC.WVNET.EDU) who responded to our story on Obamacare. Keep in mind, Ms Hunt used the WV State e-mail system, not a personal account to contact us which makes the correspondence state issued.
She wrote..."With as many poor pitiful people in this poor pitiful state, why would anyone be opposed to health care for EVERYONE! That is not complex or confusing…that is sharing the wealth! Instead of writing articles that scare the hell out of people; perhaps you could write a step by step guide to Obamacare for these poor uneducated West Virginians!"
We were a bit shocked and taken back that anyone working in WV government, specifically the Higher Education Policy Commission, believes most of us are poor and stupid. And to use the states e-mail system to proclaim it ads to the insult. Was Ms Hunts e-mail correspondence an overall feeling of the Commission,? or just one employee? As we all know, e-mail has no voice tone so its not clear that Ms Hunt really believes we are all poor, pitiful and stupid, it just reads that way. Maybe she was just being sarcastic.
Either way, we sent an e-mail to the Commission asking them for a comment on the e-mails content. A reply from Ashley Schumaker, Senior Director of Board and Public Relations, states that, "all Commission staff are provided an e-mail address for the purpose of conducting official state business. Such e-mail addresses are not to be utilized for any other purpose." Ms Schumaker also states, "Her (Sheila Hunt) comments do not represent the view of the Commission."
Standards Of Use For WV State E-Mail Accounts
According to E-Mail Use Standards from the State of West Virginias Office of Technology, Management is responsible for the e-mail activities of employees in State agencies and all State content sent and/or received is owned by the State and will be considered official State records. Employees are not allowed to use state accounts for personal business and they should have no expectation of privacy in anything they create, store, send, or receive on the State-provided network.
The WV Higher Education Policy Commission
Bottom Row (Left to Right): David Hendrickson (Chairman), Kay Goodwin (Secretary of Education and the Arts and Commissioner), Jenny Allen (Commissioner), Kathy Eddy (Secretary), and Rob Anderson (Interim Executive Vice Chancellor for Administration)
Not pictured: Bob Brown (Chairman of the Council for Community and Technical College Education and Commissioner) and John Leon. (Commissioner)
The Commission employs a staff of about seventy employees and includes the following divisions: Academic Affairs; Administrative Services; Chancellor’s Office; Finance and Facilities; Financial Aid; Health Sciences; Human Resources; Legal Services; Policy and Planning; Science and Research; and Student Success and P-20 Initiatives.
Hopefully, Sheila Hunts comments that West Virginians are "poor, pitiful and uneducated" don't really represent both her true feelings and those of the WVHEPC. If so, we have a real problem in our state government since this entity is responsible for setting policy for WV's higher education needs. Also, whatever the motivation for sending that message, using the States e-mail system to voice those thoughts is both poor judgement and poor e-mail etiquette.
End Of Story
West Virginia News
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