Affirmative action scheme

Steph Pono made this Official Information request to University of Otago

Currently waiting for a response from University of Otago, they must respond promptly and normally no later than (details and exceptions).

From: Steph Pono

Tēnā koe,

In order to inform an article I am writing, I would like to request all correspondence related to the proposed change to the University's affirmative action scheme, Mirror on Society. In particular, I am requesting electronic copies of all written material and verbal exchanges (meeting minutes, records of phone conversations and informal meetings, draft versions of the revised document with comments and all other email correspondence) that mention:

1. the reason for proposing a change to the current policy including correspondence and context relating to the decision to review the approach used at the moment,
2. the drafting of the revised policy
3. the meeting in which the proposal was considered, and
4. written and verbal discussions after the formal university committee meeting; and
5. emails and other communication as a result of the media articles published in RNZ and NZ Herald etc.
6. Information pertaining to the legal challenge against the Mirror on Society plan;
7. All media releases or promotional material generated by the University over the past ten years celebrating the achievements of underrepresented groups in the health sciences school or wider university.

I am requesting all correspondence about the matter to, or from, the:
Vice Chancellor
Head of Otago Med School
Head academic of the Health Division
Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic
Registrar
Communications, marketing, engagement or media staff; and
other staff who may have been involved in the development of the revised policy.

I would like all correspondence within the time period 1 March 2020 to 2 September 2020.

With regards to Section 12 of the Official Information Act 1982, I am a New Zealand citizen and located in New Zealand.

Kia ora rawa atu,
S N Pono

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From: University of Otago Registrar
University of Otago

Tēnā koe Steph

Thank you for your email. The University is willing to assist with your queries, but I am writing now to seek clarification on a number of issues, and to discuss with you how your request may be made more manageable.

Your request is currently framed in terms of proposed changes to the Mirror on Society Policy/scheme, and decisions about the same; however, there are currently no proposed changes to that Policy, nor any decisions about changes. Am I correct in thinking that you are instead referring to the discussion document which was tabled at the Medical Admissions Committee in mid-August, as has been reported on in a number of media stories? If so, would you be able to confirm this and/or reframe the relevant sub-requests? Alternatively, if you are instead specifically referring to changes to the Mirror on Society Policy I can proceed on that basis if you confirm that.

Secondly, subject to that clarification, answering your seven requests as they are currently presented would require predominantly manual searching through a large amount of information to identify in scope material, and we would expect to need to refuse your requests together on the grounds of substantial collation and research. I do acknowledge your limitations around staff and timeframes, which are helpful, but the request remains substantial across all the seven areas you have identified. I think it would be possible to narrow these requests so that we were able to respond more positively. You may have ideas on how to do that, but equally I would be happy to make a time to discuss this with you if that would assist.

Kind regards

Chris Stoddart
Registrar and Secretary to the Council
University of Otago

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From: Steph Pono

Dear University of Otago Registrar,

Thank you for your response.

Yes, by the proposal I do mean the "discussion document". Thank you for clarifying that point.

I'm happy to reduce the extent of my request to electronic communications only, that should reduce the substantial collation and research required to fulfil your responsibilities under the official information act.

Yours sincerely,

Steph Pono

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From: University of Otago Registrar
University of Otago

Kia ora Steph

Apologies for my slightly delayed response.

Thank you for that reduction in scope, which does assist somewhat. There are still some aspects of your request I just want to check I understand. To confirm, for the people named and the period concerned:

You are seeking all electronic correspondence about the discussion document, including its rationale, the meeting in which it was discussed, and discussions about the document following that meeting (your original 1 to 4).

You also seek all electronic correspondence discussing media articles about this matter (your original 5). Does this mean in response to media articles or in preparing responses to media enquiries? If the latter, would provision of our media statements and responses on these matters suffice?

You also want all electronic correspondence about the legal challenge the University is facing (6).

If that isn't quite right, please feel free to clarify.

Finally, with regards to your point 7, can you confirm whether you want all correspondence about media releases or promotional material generated by the University over the past ten years, which celebrates the achievements of underrepresented groups in the health sciences school or wider university? Or whether you are instead are actually seeking the media releases and promotional material themselves (rather than correspondence about them)?

Apologies for needing to ask these additional questions, but I just want to make sure we have a shared understanding of what is sought. Thank you.

Kind regards
Chris

Chris Stoddart • Registrar and Secretary to the Council • Privacy Officer • University of Otago • Tel +64 3 479 8899

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From: Steph Pono

Dear University of Otago Registrar,

Thank you for your response.

I'm happy to narrow the scope further to all electronic communication regarding admissions to the health sciences professional programmes between 1 March 2020 to 20 September 2020 generated from, or sent to, the following:

Vice Chancellor
Head of Otago Med School
Head academic of the Health Division
Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic
Registrar

Also, any electronic communications sent by, or to, the above roles in response to any media articles published about the "discussion document".

Yours sincerely,

Steph Pono

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From: University of Otago Registrar
University of Otago

Dear Steph

Thank you for continuing to engage over this, but I think your new clarification probably makes things harder to collate than previously. Admissions to the Health Sciences Professional Programmes is a relatively broad topic and not easily keyword searched on a mail system. Because of the volume of email people send and receive, a manual search for a broad topic across many months is unlikely to be practicable.

I wonder if rather than continuing this conversation by email we might be better to talk by telephone so I can better understand your request, and perhaps suggest ways in which it may be possible for us to respond to it. I would be happy to make a time for a telephone call if that suited you.

Kind regards
Chris

Chris Stoddart • Registrar and Secretary to the Council • Privacy Officer • University of Otago • Tel +64 3 479 8899

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From: Steph Pono

Kia ora Registrar,

Happy to start with just medical admissions. I assume the roles mentioned above would not be overly involved with detailed day-to-day discussions around general admission systems, process and practices, so I am confident that the research and collation burden would not be unreasonable.

Yours sincerely,

Steph Pono

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
University of Otago only: