- Ever wonder if CC is looking in on your @coloradocollege.edu email address?
College officials say no, and unless there is a “rare instance” situation in which a community life is at stake, the policy is not to interfere with student’s personal information.
A year ago, there was no specific policy regarding hacking into student or faculty email accounts, and during her first year as President of CC, Jill Tiefenthaler and other college officials created the “Colorado College Information Management Policy for Data Access.”
“No one really wants to sit around and read people’s email,” Tiefenthaler said. “It’s bad enough to read my own email.”
The policy formally states that CC respects the privacy of its faculty, staff, and students, but “in rare instances, the college will exercise its right to access this data.”
Rare is the key word in the clause.
A “rare instance” can be defined as a situation in which the college or any member of the community is a danger to themselves or others. It could also be a situation in which the college must take legal action, because all email accounts are technically CC property, campus officials said.
However, Dean of Students, Mike Edmonds, pointed out that, because there are so many different resources at CC, hacking into student or faculty email is only a last resort; a resort that many would not even consider using.
If a student is having mental health issues, which would be considered a rare or extreme situation, school officials expect that this news would come from the student’s friends, professors, RAs, counselors, or other members of the community.
The policy outlines the procedure that requests for access “must specify in writing the date being sought, the name associated with the data, and a compelling reason for accessing the data.”
Next, the request is sent to three senior college officers, the College President, the Dean, and the Vice-President for Finance and Administration (CFO). Two out of three of these officials must approve the request in order for it to be fully processed, where it will then “go to the Vice-President for Information Management, who will work confidentially with a technician to access the data.”
David Armstrong, Interim Vice President for Information Management, wrote much of this policy. “We made the policy because we didn’t have one; not because there was an issue or practice [of hacking into emails],” Armstrong said.
Again, this policy is enacted in only extreme circumstances.
For instance, when Jason Newton asked for students to turn in their fake IDs, the school did not go into the student accounts to check and see if students ordered them using their CC emails, contrary to popular belief.
Although the average CC student leads an incredibly exciting life, college officials are not interested in your love letters or essays for your ethnomusicology of the Middle East and North Africa class.
Tiefenthaler has never heard of “the administration” hacking into emails or anyone even attempting to hack into them. The Help Desk staff has also never heard of any circumstances where hacking would be considered an option.
Officials are more concerned about students logging out of public computers around campus and regularly changing passwords in order to avoid any type of unwanted and unauthorized hacking.
Lab guy extraordinaire, Weston Taylor, and Help Desk staffers, Christin DeVille and David White, suggested using “tigernet2” because it is a secure wireless network as opposed to “ccguest”, which anyone on campus can access.
Being aware of real computer hackers should probably be a bigger concern to students than the administration looking into your private emails, officials said. Taylor also stated that “if it is something that you really don’t want anyone to get their hands on, don’t send it electronically.”
In closing, CC is a trusting community and college officials respect the privacy of all members of the community.
As Mike Edmonds said, “No worries, we’re not watching!”