Request for Comments


GHI management has asked members for comments before a vote on a new records retention policy.

It’s not a super exciting topic! I don’t usually care about these sorts of “GHI-wonk” matters because I figure that people who know more than I do will take care of it. But, recently, I’ve been noticing that the decisions that get made by the co-op aren’t ones that speak to me of shared, cooperative housing values, and that is a trend that I want to see reversed. So, here are my comments on the records retention policy. What are yours?

1. The bylaws for the cooperative state that “all members” are given access to records of the cooperative. Your policy only gives access to authorized staff. It is incumbent upon the cooperative to have a data management system that allows differentiated access to records AND allows members direct access to records that are not private (member social security numbers) or prudently restricted from member access (bank account location and balances, but not account numbers). This policy may not be written such that staff approve nor facilitate the access of information by members. (That is for open member access but also for the preservation of staff time for staff work!)
I know that this sort of data management system is possible. We do this for swim team. Any team member can see who else is on the team, including contact information, and can control their own information if a phone number changes. Volunteer coordinator can see family volunteer obligations, but has no access to financial records. Team registrar has access to limited financial records. Team president can access everything.
2. GDC business should not be co-mingled with GHI in these policies. GDC is supposed to be managed separately yet has an outsized presence in the data management concerns of GHI staff according to this policy. GDC is not meant to be managed by GHI membership, and policies about its data management have no place being conflated with GHI in a policy document.
Leah Cohen

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