The 2007-2008 campus telephone directories are out! Don’t know what we’re talking about? The stalker guides.Oh riiiiight, the stalker guides.
The “Stalker guide” seems to be a more appropriate name for the 200-page annual publication than “campus telephone directory.” After all, only 34 pages of it are dedicated to the on-campus telephone numbers of faculty, staff and administration. The vast majority of the publication-100 pages-is dedicated to the publication of the private contact information of University students and their families. What exactly is publicized? Well, among pieces of more benign information such as students’ initials and area of study, students’ full home mailing addresses and telephone numbers are listed.
That’s right, your home mailing address – where perhaps younger siblings, elderly grandparents, or both are living – is printed in a “telephone guide” that is circulated on campus. The books are piled in stacks on a table 15 feet from the entrance to Sykes – a building any Joe or Jill could walk into. They could easily reach the hands of an angered or deranged student seeking revenge on another student. The devastating possibilities are virtually endless.
Most students know about the stalker guide. And most concur that it is unbeneficial. But parents probably don’t know about the publication, as they are not mailed home and generally do not leave campus. To test this theory, a Quad editor randomly selected ten entries from the 100-page student section of the directory and called the homes of ten students to listen to what their parents had to say about the “telephone guides.” Of the 10 homes called, six parents answered – four mothers and two fathers. None of them wanted us to quote their responses, and frankly, some were too unsanitary for publication anyway. All six agreed that we should not have been able to call them and asked how they could get their information removed from the publication. We did not leave messages at the four homes that did not answer the phone.
To be fair, students and their parents may opt out of having their information published in the “campus telephone directory.” According to page 45 of this year’s publication:
“Currently enrolled students may withhold disclosure of their student information [.]. Both graduate and undergraduate students who do not wish to have directory information published must file notice in the Office of the Registrar. This must be done within the first fifteen calendar days after the beginning of the semester. The University assumes that failure on the student’s part to specifically request withholding directory information indicates the student’s approval for disclosure.”
Well, isn’t that humorous? For one, how is a first-year student supposed to know that the publication even exists, much less know how to opt out of being included in it? After all, the opt-out clause is only printed in two locations: the publication itself and buried within the 80-page “Ram’s Eye View” student handbook. For two through 4,723, isn’t it faulty to assume that a student’s silence on the matter is indicative of giving his or her “approval?” Wouldn’t that be the same as arguing that if a student does not state his or her disapproval with the rising cost of food at Sykes, he or she approves of paying more for the same food? Should students start stating obvious dissent with the poor decisions of the University, just so our approval is no longer assumed? Maybe that is the only option.
There is talk of discontinuing the publication next year, after a contract with the company that prints it expires. This is a very good idea. Our privacy – and the privacy of our families – should not be compromised. The only solution is to shut the publication down.
Until that happens, students may opt out of having their name and personal contact information shared with any Tom, Dick, or Harry that wants it by visiting the office of the registrar in the E.O. Bull Centre. You may download the form in advance from the Registrar’s Web site, and we will link directly to the form on our Web site, wcuquad.com. Click on this editorial, the link is at the bottom of the page.