Faculty Senate addresses cellular device stipend policy, phone privacy concerns

By Northern Star Staff

Matt Parks, senior director of Network and Communications Services, presented a cellular stipend policy proposal Wednesday to Faculty Senate, some members of which were skeptical of the proposal.

The policy applies to NIU departments and employees that use university-issued cellular devices for university business services, in lieu of providing cellular devices. Monthly stipends would amount to $35 for basic voice use or data, $85 for typical voice and data use plans and $115 for expanded voice and data functionality.

Parks said NIU has managed a cellphone program for 10 years and supports more than 600 devices by paying roughly $400,000 a year. The policy is proposed for best practices, Parks said, and not cost effectiveness.

Michael Haji-Sheikh, associate professor in electrical engineering, said he wouldn’t suggest faculty members conduct NIU business on their personal phones, as the stipend would encourage.

“If you are talking to someone and … for some reason your phone gets picked up in a search and you have, say something completely unrelated to NIU … that becomes a problem,” Haji-Sheikh said. “The police … can take your personal information.”

Economics Associate professor George Slotsve said even without the stipend, employee cellphones are still subject to information requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

A copy of the proposal is available on Wednesday’s agenda at bit.ly/1u89tjW.