Speaking of criticizing universities in blogs…

While I’m on the subject, Wichita State University is apparently giving personal information about me to military recruiters. I’ve received numerous calls, from at least two different branches of the military. Some of them know nothing but my name and home phone number. Others appear to know my age, and still others how close I am to graduation and that I’m taking evening classes.

WSU never informed me that they would be sharing this information with the military. I am quite troubled that they do so without my informed consent, and I will be letting them know this.

13 thoughts on “Speaking of criticizing universities in blogs…

  1. They have to give the military recruiters your information, thanks to the Solomon Amendment. You can thank the House Republicans for this one. There might be ways to opt out, but evidently it’s too late for you as they already have your info.

    See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/02/AR2005050200616.html

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    jgoerzen Reply:

    No. That law only mandates that the university has to give military recruiters “equal access”. So I am still within my rights to be ticked — if this is the same sort of access they give all sorts of other recruiters, they’re still giving my information out without my consent.

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  2. In order for a university to recieve federal funding, they MUST provide military recruiters with no less than so-called “directory information”: name, address, phone number, etc.

    http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html

    The military exemption is not clearly spelled out on that particular page, but if you click around, you will find more information. In places it talks mainly about secondary students, but I assure you, it applies to higher education as well.

    Recruiters can also ask a university for the information on all students fitting a certain description; for example: juniors taking night classes and majoring in computer science. The theory is that students enrolled in night classes are probably working through school, which a student would only do if they were financially hard off. That makes the prime targets for military education programs.

    Recruiters are also VERY good at making educated guesses about a student’s situation. The military spends a considerable amount of effort training its recruiters. They are very good at ferreting out information about people.

    Finally, you can opt-out of such directory information, but as you’ve said, it’s too late now.

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    jgoerzen Reply:

    That all makes sense. But the Washington Post article the anonymous poster linked to was regarding the equal access requirement of the Solomon Amendment, which simply requires, well, equal access. So that post seemed suspect.

    Thanks for the clarification.

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  3. Obviously the recruiters haven’t read this blog, or they’d realize that you aren’t quite military material!

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    jgoerzen Reply:

    Perhaps next time they call, I shall explain why I think it is unethical to participate in an organization whose mission is to kill people.

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    Anonymous Reply:

    Or simply explain that since a soldier’s first duty is to protect the country from ennemy treats, you would have to start by kiling him and walk your way up the military hierarchy until all remaining treats to USA’s safety have been eliminated.

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    jgoerzen Reply:

    Hahaha. Very funny.

    Though probably not the wisest thing to say to a federal employee ;-)

  4. WSU’s privacy policy seems pretty clear about the matter. Your name, phone, college, and class are all made publically available on the web. Full directory information, including all of the pieces of information you listed, is available for you on request. You have not chosen to limit the disclosure of this information. Even if the Solomon Ammendment did not exist, military recruiters would still have access to the same information on you. Because of this, it’s hard to feel any sympathy for you in this matter.

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    Anonymous Reply:

    Perhaps the fact that they never mentioned this? Even when I specifically asked the relevant office? Plus the fact that this is the default, which is absolutely insane. I wasn’t even aware of the online directory until a few days ago. I don’t think that a privacy policy that consists of “scour our website until you see something that shouldn’t be public, then notify us” is a good privacy policy. The fact that a policy exists doesn’t make it a good one.

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    Jim Reply:

    Ignorance of the law is no excuse. I worked at a college for several years. Anyone can request ‘census data,’ i.e. name, address, phone number, etc. Grades and other ‘personal information’ cannot be released unless you personally approve. Also someplace in the catalog, which is now probably on-line, you do have the option of opting out. That is probably the reason they can get their information by just asking. The Patriot Act and the above mentioned law may give the services extra rights even if you opt out. I retired before the Patriot Act.

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    jgoerzen Reply:

    My point is that the university should:

    1) Disclose up-front what information is revealed by default;

    2) Have a policy to reveal as little as possible (instead of as much as possible) by default;

    3) Make it clear up-front how to opt-out, and make the process easy.

  5. Have a little fun. The next time a recruiter calls, tell them you’re really interested. Ask a few questions about what it’s like to be in a combat zone. Say “shit hot” and “that fuckin’ rocks” a lot. Tell them you would really like to drive a(n) (choose one: Humvee, tank, B-1, aircraft carrier). After they think you’re an easy mark, ask some really simple question, like “If I sign up, will I have to get my swastika tatoo removed?”

    (Actually, I’d really like to hear the answers to this question. If you want this blog to go wild, post the answers here.)

    If only we could get ten or twenty million high school seniors and college students to play Jerk Around the Recruiter, perhaps some of this heavy-handed (jackbooted) recruiting nonsense would stop.

    Occupy imagination.

    Reply

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