An example on privacy I found interesting was that colleges use tracking pixels embedded within their emails to gauge the interest of potential students in their university. Also that the pixels score each student depending on how quickly they open the email all the while doing this without asking for permission. I see this as extremely troubling and unfair for students. This is troubling because universities are choosing to quantify an emotion. Interest comes and goes in waves. One month you may be dead set on one college then comes a long a sudden change of heart and you’re devoted to another school. What happens if you want to go to a certain college but you check the email a week too late? Is the college just going to assume you’re uninterested based on your emotions towards the school months prior? I think it’s troubling that universities are doing this. It is also unfair. Oftentimes, seniors in highschool would rather be doing something else instead of checking their emails. For highschool seniors in particular, they are swamped with college emails from the get-go of the school year. Universities should abandon this tracking pixel data and instead utilize data from online surveys where students who are actually interested in the school go in and insert their information.
“But if colleges use the crystal ball that's available to them, they will surely come much closer to that goal.”
Throughout the article, “Mining Student Data Could Save Lives,” Michael Morris, the author, made many arguments, but his central argument was that college campuses should in fact mine their students’ data. That is the “crystal ball” that he says is available to them while the “goal” he mentions is to stop large acts of campus violence.
Now Morris does in fact make the argument that mining students’ data could help college campuses prevent large acts of violence, but that is only meant to draw attention to the main issue which is the fact that many college campuses are actually reluctant to mine their students’ data for various reasons. That is where Morris makes his central argument being that college campuses should in fact mine their students’ data. He addresses the counter-argument that privacy is in question but rebuts it by explaining that college campuses use algorithms that only extract “usable” data. He addresses another counter-argument that mining students’ data may be met with the backlash of a policy breach but rebuts it as well by explaining that the Department of Education revised the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (Ferpa) where colleges would have more access to the information of students who raise serious concern.
I, for one, agree with Morris’s argument. As he himself has already stated, we as a society have been waiving our online privacy for our increasing indulgence in online services over the past decade now, and we cannot simply just go back to the way things were. To me, it would be outrageous having to mourn the death of a fellow classmate while knowing it could have been prevented by the college campus. At some point we just have to take a deep breath and decide what is more important — making sure that my routine life as a college student is kept private or stopping the next “School-Shooting” headline.