Privacy was main concern in policy change
What’s with all this junk mail?
CU officials recently decided to stop providing student contact information to businesses requesting for lists of addresses and email accounts.
The Regent’s Office and Information Technology Services officials concluded earlier this month that they should fight for student privacy. The policy will affect student-oriented businesses like University Services, The Princeton Review and Campus Direct.
Officials had several reasons for changing the policy but their main focus was for the students.
“Our sole motive is to protect the privacy of our students in a world that has grown more dangerous and more spam-filled than ever,” said CU spokesperson Barrie Hartman.
The issue arose after ITS officials prevented Princeton Review spam from reaching students. The Princeton Review contacted university officials asking why the university had blocked its e-mails. ITS brought the issue of student privacy forward, questioning the university’s decision to provide any student information to businesses in the first place.
Student safety gained much attention after this realization.
“It’s not a technical issue. It’s a university policy issue and it’s not in the best interests of the university and its students to divulge that information,” said ITS Public Representative and Communications Manager Greg Stauffer.
The matter caught the attention of Managing Senior Associate University Counsel Christine M. Arguello. She researched the legality of the businesses’ requests for student information.
The businesses requested the information under the Colorado Open Records Act, which allows people or organizations to access virtually all state government information.
“I go by my gut instincts. It didn’t feel right,” said Arguello.
Arguello contacted State Assistant Attorney General Nancy Wahl. Wahl told Arguello that the Attorney General advised all higher institutions to provide information to requesting businesses for the last 30 years. Arguello thought the policy was outdated.
“Times have changed,” Arguello said.
Hartman expects the businesses to file a court grievance against CU because some businesses feel they are entitled to the information.
For example, Campus Direct provides property insurance to students. Campus Direct official John Mangano believes students will ultimately miss out because they will be unaware of valuable services.
“It’s disappointing. I feel it’s a pursuant to the Colorado Open Records Act,” said Mangano.
In order to obtain feedback from students Arguello established the Student Directory Information Committee to seek out the opinions of the student body.
The committee will decide where to draw the boundaries for a new policy. Arguello believes university-affiliated groups such as sororities and alumni organizations will have access to student contact lists. The goal of the university is to protect students from unwanted business solicitation.
Some students have mixed feelings on the issue.
“I don’t think businesses should get the lists because we’ll get junk-mail, but I think Career Services should get the lists because it’ll help students find jobs,” said sophomore marketing major Kristin Brown.