Most political science majors could tell you that the Constitution guarantees the right to privacy. But while the Supreme Court can uphold this argument, it seems a bit too much to ask of some university officials. They're too busy allowing your personal information - including Social Security numbers and grades - to be released to all sorts of people without your permission.
In one case, U. of Arizona officials admitted to giving students' Social Security numbers to a credit union and a telecommunications corporation. Officials say the numbers were released in an effort to streamline the activation of some services tied to the school's identification cards. Students, however, aren't buying it.
"I am very worried- there's nothing to say [the university] won't do it again," says Arizona senior Kristin McClendon. "I was appalled that [they] used Social Security numbers for any kind of referencing. It was an invasion of personal privacy."
Across the country on Rhode Island College's campus, thousands of pages of computer printouts containing Social Security numbers - which should have been shredded - turned up in recycling dumpsters.
And at Stanford U., students were shocked to learn that academic advisers weren't the only ones with access to their grades. In fact, viewing privileges extend to "any school officials with legitimate educational interests." That means students who work in campus offices, professors and even TAs can take a peek at your goods.
At the U. of Utah, two professors pulled up grades belonging to a student they didn't even teach, after he made a derogatory comment about their curriculum in the student newspaper.
But while administrators might be responsible for the majority of the violations, they're not the only ones. At the U. of Colorado, Boulder, a student released 12 e-mail passwords to international computer hackers, allowing them to access secured information in the university's computer system.
Colorado senior Travis Van says as long as the info isn't too personal, he doesn't mind who sees it. "I never got any credit card applications when I lived at home," he says, "but since I've been at school, I've gotten tons of offers from companies who couldn't have gotten to me any other way."
Some students aren't so easily swayed by the almighty dollar. "It's not the content of my personal information that I'm worried about," says Dana Bisordi, a senior at Santa Clara U. "It's the principle of people reading your private files."
It doesn't take a secret agent to figure that one out.
By Gina Tassone, Santa Clara U.
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