I plan to respond to the essay by Michael Morris, titled “Mining Student Data Could Save Lives.” This essay discusses the potential disasters that could be avoided if universities monitored their students’ data.
I find this essay especially compelling because of the relevant nature of its subject matter. As a college student, knowing that my university could see my internet activity at any time is a little worrying. However, the benefits of doing so make it a valid avenue to make campuses safer.
From one viewpoint, students deserve privacy. With events such as the hacking of big companies such as Ashley Madison and Sony, it wouldn’t be too difficult to hack a university’s system and have access to thousands of students’ personal information. On a smaller scale, it would be possible to target information about specific individuals and use that to blackmail or threaten them, as happened in the media when nude pictures of celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence were released. There is a certain danger in allowing universities access to students’ personal data, and the complete ramifications cannot be predicted until it actually happens.
On the other side of the debate, using algorithms to track internet activity could be a major part of preventing violence and crime. The main example in Morris’s essay was that of a student who had bought firearms online, and may have engaged in other warning activities that could have served as red flags for those monitoring those types of activities. In these cases, it would have been immensely helpful to have a system in place that allows universities to monitor student activity.
There are many other factors to consider in this debate as well, from secrecy to censorship. Because of this, I am choosing to respond to Morris’s essay in my first paper.